HIV and Pregnancy
HIV Positive Mothers Can Safely Have Children
In the 1990s HIV pregnancy was a risky endeavor for both the mother and the child. At its height, about 1500 HIV positive children were born a year in America, but as medical science creates new ways of both stemming the tide of AIDS/HIV and preventing the transmission of it during pregnancy, that number has declined dramatically in recent years. Currently about 100-200 children are born HIV positive in America and a great number of those children are born with it due to a lack of proper preventative treatment during and after pregnancy. With an HIV pregnancy, the risk of the baby being born HIV positive is about 30% when the women and fetus' are not treated with preventative treatments during the pregnancy. However, with preventative treatments those risks drop to nearly nil, a mere 2% chance of the babies having HIV/Aids when they are born.
How is Infection Prevented during an HIV Pregnancy?
HIV Medications - HIV medications have grown leaps and bounds since HIV/AIDS was first reported decades ago and they can be a vital component to preventing the baby from becoming HIV positive during and after a pregnancy. To help reduce the risks dramatically during an HIV pregnancy, the mother should be given an HIV medication containing Retrovir (AZT) during the entire pregnancy and while delivering of the baby (either through c-section or natural birth.) To help reduce the risks even more, the baby should be dosed with a medication containing Retrovir (AZT) after delivery as well to help prevent transmission of the disease.
Delivery Via C-Section - At the end of an HIV pregnancy, the baby is exposed to high amounts of the mother's infected body fluids. To reduce the risks of the baby becoming HIV positive, most babies are now born via c-section to keep as much of the mother's bodily fluids away from the baby as possible.
Avoiding Breastfeeding - Breastfeeding is a wonderful way for mothers to bond with and nourish their baby while they go through the most developmental portion of their life. However, for an HIV positive mother that may not be an option as a mother's milk can have high levels of HIV contained within it. Mother's are instructed to use other forms of feeding the baby such as formula if at all possible.
What is the Risk of a HIV Pregnancy to the Mother?
There has been no evidence that an HIV pregnancy is an inherent risk for the mother other than the fact that not all HIV medications can be used during pregnancy. The HIV drug Sustiva (efavirenz) for example cannot be used during the pregnancy due to its harmful effects to the fetus as it develops. As with all drugs, some work exceptionally for some people while not very well for others. Because of this it is important to keep the risks of HIV developing more in the mother's body in mind if a drug can't be found that helps to stem the spreading of HIV as well as being harmless to the baby. Just with any normal pregnancy, an HIV positive mother-to-be needs to make smart choices during her pregnancy to reduce the risks of complications such as:
-No consumption of alcohol during the pregnancy
-No use of recreational drugs
-Following a well balanced diet during the HIV pregnancy
-Partaking in normal HIV care and prevention procedures
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