Prenatal Risks

Pregnancy and HIV / AIDS

The best way to keep yourself and your baby healthy is to avoid getting AIDS in the first place. Risky behaviors, like drug use, having sex with a man who uses drugs, and prostitution can put a woman and her baby at risk for AIDS, drug addiction, and other diseases. A latex or slicone condom can help reduce the risk, but the best solution is to simply not have sex with someone if there's a chance he could be HIV positive.

The good news is a pregnant, HIV positive woman will not usually give her child the disease. There is a 75% chance that the child will be completely unaffected if the HIV-positive mother does nothing. The odds of having an uninfected child are less than 8% if the mother is treated with ZDV (AZT) during the pregnancy, and as low as 2% with HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy). For this reason it is recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service that all pregnant women avail themselves of an HIV test as soon as pregnancy is discovered.

Health Warning: Women who have induced abortions have an increased risk of HIV-1 infection of 172%. (Researchers are at least 99% confident of this result.)

Significantly higher prevalences of infection [HIV-1] were associated with induced abortion (0.49%) than with delivery (0.18%) (OR: 2.72; 95% CI: 2.29-3.22)

Source: European Journal of Epidemiology, "Deliveries, abortion and HIV-1 infection in Rome, 1989-1994," 1997,13:373-378.

Because the child takes on the mother's immune system, the infant will have HIV antibodies, subsequently testing positive after birth. Therefore, these types of tests do not become accurate until the child is eighteen months old. PCR testing can determine the infants' HIV status by six weeks, only then can it be known for certain whether or not he or she is actually infected with the AIDS virus. It has even been documented that some infected infants clear themselves of the AIDS virus. Although most children who do contract AIDS have poor prognoses, some lead healthy and relatively unaffected lives. If the prospect of raising a child with AIDS is too difficult, there are families who are willing to adopt HIV+ babies.

Source of Medical Information: UCLA AIDS Institute Perspectives, 4(1), Winter 1996. Hatcher et al., Contraceptive Technology, 18th ed., Chpater 7, 2005.

Local and National AIDS Resources

UCLA Maternal-Child Immunology Clinic
UCLA Dept. of Pediatrics, 10833 LeConte Ave. Room 22-442, LA, CA 90095-1752.
Provides medical care for HIV+ women during pregnancy and postpartum, as well as infected infants and children.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
600 Clifton Rd., NE, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA, (404) 639-3311. See: Prevention of HIV Transmission from Mothers to Infants.

AIDS Information Hotline: 1-800-342-2437
Sponsored by the national Centers for Disease Control

You might have questions or concerns about your pregnancy. It can sometimes help to chat online with other new mothers.

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