Pregnant woman holding her tummy

Protecting your unborn baby from HIV

A woman living with HIV can transmit this virus to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.

If you’re pregnant and have started your pre-natal visits, chances are that you’ve already had an HIV test. If you have HIV, your doctor must have (or should have) advised you on what you need to do to protect your unborn baby from contracting HIV. If not, keep reading. 

If you are pregnant and are yet to start a pre-natal clinic, do so as soon as possible. In the meantime, here are steps you can take to protect your unborn child. 

How can I reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to my baby?

  • Get tested as soon as possible to know your HIV status.  Encourage your partner to be tested for HIV as well.
  • If you have HIV, the sooner you begin treatment, the better for your health, and the prevention of HIV transmission to your baby and your partner.
  • Get tested again in your third trimester if you don’t have HIV but you or your partner engage in behaviors that put you at risk for HIV.

I have HIV, what can I do to protect my baby from contracting it?

  • If you have HIV and take your HIV treatment as directed during pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, as well as giving HIV medicine to your baby after birth, your chance of transferring HIV to your kid is as low as 1%.
  • Also, visit your health care provider regularly during antenatal and postnatal visits to monitor your health and your baby’s.

I don’t have HIV but my partner does

  • If you have an HIV-positive partner and are thinking about getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about available prevention methods like PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).
  • While trying to conceive, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding, PrEP may be an option to help protect you and your baby from contracting HIV.
  • Encourage your positive partner to start and stay consistent with ARV therapy. This will help you from contracting HIV from your partner.
  • An HIV-positive person who takes their medication as directed and achieves and maintains an undetectable viral load has virtually minimal risk of transferring HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.

Do have any questions or comments about mother-to-child transmission of HIV? Leave a comment or question below or join the discussion on Facebook.

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