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Pregnancy and HIV

Have a baby when you have HIV? Sure you can.

It used to be that when a woman was diagnosed with HIV, she was told she shouldn’t have kids. Thankfully, that has changed with the improvement of diagnosis, care and treatment. Learning about HIV and pregnancy, getting pregnant, and mother to child transmission can put your mind at rest.

So you want to be a mom …

Getting pregnant and becoming a parent is huge. If you have HIV, it’s good to consider:

  • How is your health overall? How high is your viral load? The lower the better if you want to get pregnant. Low viral load and high CD4s are what you want.
  • Are you on meds? Are you willing to go on them? They can decrease the risk of passing HIV to the baby.
  • How might you react if your baby has HIV? It’s not likely, but it’s possible.
  • Do you have help if you get sick and can’t parent full-time?

If you find out you have HIV during your pregnancy, it can be a real shock, but your pregnancy can be healthy. Getting good prenatal care is really important. Find the nearest doctor that specializes in HIV obstetrical care. If you live in BC, Oak Tree Clinic can see you or make a referral to your closest doctor.

Going for it

If you are HIV-positive and your partner is not, you can safely get pregnant through self-insemination. Have your partner ejaculate into a small cup, then use an oral syringe (available at drug stores at the pharmacy counter) to squirt the semen as high up in your vagina as possible. The sperm will swim up through your cervix, and with luck, conception will occur! If you are both HIV-positive, getting pregnant is more risky, but not impossible and there are ways to lower the risks of exposure. Oak Tree Clinic is a good source of friendly, non-judgmental information.

Mother to Child Transmission

Mother to Child transmission (also know as vertical or pediatric HIV transmission), happens when a baby is infected during pregnancy or labour. HIV treatment during pregnancy is a combination of drugs designed to slow the replication of HIV and decrease the chances of it crossing over the placenta to the baby. If you choose to take treatment during pregnancy, the chance your baby will become infected is about 1% (1 in 100). If you don’t, the chance your baby could become infected is about 25% (25 in 100). We don’t know the life-long effects of these treatments on kids who were exposed during pregnancy, but Oak Tree Clinic can give you the most up-to-date research.

HIV can also be transmitted through breast milk, so breastfeeding is not recommended. Programs may offer free infant formula to HIV+ moms in BC; check with us or Oak Tree for current information.

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