Positive & Pregnant: How To Keep Yourself & Your Baby Healthy

pregnant black woman
Well, as you suspected, your pregnancy test is positive. Congratulations! Pregnancy can be an exciting time, and a really wonderful experience.

Of course, now that you’re expecting, you probably have lots of questions, some of which relate to how your HIV-positive status will impact your pregnancy and your baby.

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The goal in every pregnancy is to keep both mom and baby healthy — and I’m happy to say that this is a goal that’s well within your reach. Just because you have HIV does not mean you can’t have a happy, healthy pregnancy, and a happy, healthy baby. Basically, the same things that keep you healthy will keep your baby healthy. Risks of transmitting the virus to your baby decrease as your own viral load decreases.

In fact, if you are on HIV medication and take the medications as prescribed, there’s only a 1% chance of passing HIV to your baby. In my 11 years as an HIV specialist, and having seen over 150 pregnant patients with HIV, I have never had a patient pass HIV to her baby. However, if you’re not on HIV meds, or don’t take them like you’re supposed to, there’s a 25% chance (basically a one in four chance) that you will pass HIV to the baby. Even medication at the last minute, at the time of labor, cuts the risk and some states have laws about testing mothers during labor if an HIV test result is not on file for the pregnancy.

So let’s talk about what you need to do to keep both you and your little one healthy. Many women wonder how HIV can be transmitted to the baby. HIV can be transmitted during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, or by breastfeeding. We’ll talk about what you can do during pregnancy, during labor, and after your baby is born to decrease the chances of transmitting the virus.