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HIV/AIDS and Pregnancy

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Summary

If I have HIV, can I pass it on to my baby during pregnancy?

If you are pregnant and have HIV/AIDS,there is a risk of passing HIV to your baby. It can happen in three ways:

  • During pregnancy
  • During childbirth, especially if it is vaginal childbirth. In some cases, your doctor may suggest doing a Cesarean section to lower the risk during childbirth.
  • During breastfeeding

How can I prevent giving HIV to my baby?

You can greatly lower that risk by taking HIV/AIDS medicines. These medicines will also help protect your health. Most HIV medicines are safe to use during pregnancy. They don't usually raise the risk of birth defects. But it is important to talk with your health care provider about the risks and benefits of the different medicines. Together you can decide which medicines are right for you. Then you need to make sure you take your medicines regularly.

Your baby will get HIV/AIDS medicines as soon as possible after birth. The medicines protect your baby from infection from any HIV that passed from you during childbirth. Which medicine your baby gets depends on several factors. These include how much of the virus that is in your blood (called viral load). Your baby will need to take medicines for 4 to 6 weeks. He or she will get several tests to check for HIV over the first few months.

Breast milk can have HIV in it. In the United States, infant formula is safe and readily available. So the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that women in the United States who have HIV use formula instead of breastfeeding their babies.

What if I want to get pregnant and my partner has HIV?

If you are trying to get pregnant and your partner does not know whether he has HIV, he should get tested.

If your partner does have HIV and you do not, talk to your doctor about taking PrEP. PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis.This means taking medicines to prevent HIV. The PrEP helps to protect both you and your baby from HIV.

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Reference Desk

  • Glossary From the National Institutes of Health (HIV.gov; National Institutes of Health, Office of AIDS Research)

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The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.