HealthPregnancyAIDS And Pregnancy - Facts You Should Know

AIDS And Pregnancy – Facts You Should Know

Having HIV can be terrifying, and bringing a new life into the equation can be even more scary. Remember, not all people who have HIV will get AIDS. Therefore, it is essential to be cautious when you are diagnosed and manage the illness early.

This article will discuss HIV/AIDS and pregnancy, the prevention of HIV in pregnancy, the effect of HIV in pregnancy and the management of HIV in pregnancy.

What is HIV/AIDS?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that causes problems within the body’s immune system. It weakens the immune system and leaves the body vulnerable to various diseases and unable to fight them over time. When the body’s immune system has been thoroughly weakened, the virus causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

It is important to remember that not everyone who has HIV also has AIDS. AIDS is a condition that occurs in the advanced stages of HIV. When a person has AIDS, they are unable to fight off diseases as they normally are, and even minor health issues can be life-threatening or fatal.

A person can get HIV through infected blood or through semen or vaginal fluids. There is no cure for HIV, but it is a very treatable disease. With regular treatment and exercising caution, you can live your life without major changes. However, testing for HIV is extremely important as you may not even know you have the disease until it’s too late.

If you are HIV positive and planning on having a baby, or just planning for a baby and looking for relevant information, this article will discuss the effect of HIV in pregnancy, management of HIV in pregnancy and preventive measures that a new mother can take to avoid mother to foetus transmission of HIV.

Should Pregnant Women Get Tested For HIV? 

It is extremely important for pregnant women to get tested for HIV. If you are pregnant, get the tests done as early as possible in your pregnancy. To detect HIV, a blood test is commonly used, though there are also saliva tests done. If the first blood test is positive for HIV, then there will be other tests done to determine if the first test was accurate.

If the test is negative, but you have been exposed to HIV, you will need to undergo follow-up testing after a few weeks.  

Effects Of HIV In Pregnancy:

If you have HIV and are pregnant, you will need extra medication and healthcare. This is inclusive of and not limited to antiretroviral medicines, vaccines and other preventive treatments. You will need a medical practitioner who is an expert in high-risk pregnancies and HIV to support you.

Along with preventive medication, you will require frequent blood tests to check the amount of HIV in your body. By keeping the virus under complete control, the risk of transmitting HIV to the baby will be minimised.

Mother To Foetus Transmission Of HIV:

If you are pregnant and have HIV that is not treated, there are chances that you can pass it on to your baby in the following ways:

1. Through The Placenta:

The placenta supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Although the possibility of passing HIV through the placenta is slim, especially if the mother is healthy in other ways, it is still a possibility. Factors that can cause this possibility are in-uterine infections, recent or advanced HIV infection or malnutrition.

2. During Labour:

When you go into labour and your amniotic sac breaks, the baby’s chances of getting infected are higher. Infection during birth is a common way through which the baby can get infected.   

3. Through Breast Milk:

If you are HIV positive, breastfeeding will pass on the virus to the baby. Instead, speak to your doctor about formula and other options.

Prevention is always better than cure, so if you’re planning to have a baby, make sure you get tested for HIV. The earlier it is diagnosed, the easier it is to take medication and treatment to get the virus under control. By taking the antiretroviral treatment, you can reduce the amount of HIV in your body and keep your immune system strong. It can also help reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby during pregnancy.

How To Avoid Transmission (Prenatal & Perinatal)?

Along with your prenatal care, if you are HIV positive, your medical practitioner will also check your viral load and CD3 cell count. If you have a high viral load or a low CD4 count, you are more likely to pass on HIV to your baby. What is essential, therefore, is to keep taking treatment for HIV during pregnancy to avoid transmission. Here are some other tips to follow to reduce risk for your baby:

  • Be extremely alert about taking your HIV medication.
  • Avoid prenatal tests such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, which may increase your baby’s risk for infection.
  • If you are 8 months pregnant and HIV positive, consider a caesarean birth as your best option. Having a natural birth increases the chances of infection, so speak to your medical practitioner about the possibility of a c-section.  
  • Ensure that your baby is treated for HIV after birth. As the test can be done only after a few months post birth, early treatment is important because HIV can advance faster in children.
  • Do not breastfeed your baby.
  • Once your baby is old enough for solid food, do not chew it before giving it to them.

Is There A Safe HIV Treatment During Pregnancy?

Yes. Most HIV treatments are safe for women and the foetus during pregnancy. Along with ART, a healthy diet, and extra precaution against infections and sexually transmitted diseases should be an integral part of the health plan for the woman. The risk of ART medications for the baby is very low.

Medical practitioners should also be on the lookout for symptoms of AIDS and other pregnancy complications due to HIV.

If you are cautious, and follow a strict medical regime and the recommendations of your doctor, the chances of transmitting HIV to your baby will be greatly reduced. By taking care of yourself and ensuring that your viral load is low, not only do you avoid and delay the chances of AIDS, but also increase the chances of a healthy baby.

Always practice precaution and safe sex, and remember to get frequently tested for HIV.

Stay in touch

Join us to stay connected with a community of power women just like you.

Related Articles

Latest Articles

More article