We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
If I'm HIV positive, does that mean my baby will be too?
Not necessarily. With the right treatment, the risk of a baby being HIV positive is less than 1 percent.
Can I prevent my unborn baby from contracting HIV?
Yes. There's a lot you can do to protect your baby from exposure to HIV. The key is to continue taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) and attend all your prenatal appointments.
The goal of ART is to reduce the amount of HIV in your blood to an undetectable level. This protects your baby from the virus during pregnancy and delivery. ART requires careful monitoring by a healthcare provider.
If you're HIV positive, your baby will also receive medication at birth as additional protection in case she comes in contact with HIV during delivery. After your baby is born, she'll most likely be given an antiretroviral medicine called zidovudine (ZDV) for four to six weeks.
Some babies receive additional HIV medication. This usually happens if you don't get the recommended treatment during pregnancy.
How does HIV spread to a baby?
HIV is transmitted through blood or bodily fluids including semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. There are four ways mother-to-baby transmission of HIV may happen:
- HIV crosses the placenta and infects a baby during pregnancy.
- A baby is exposed to the virus in the blood or other fluids during delivery. Most babies who get HIV this way are infected around the time of delivery.
- A baby can get HIV from breast milk. That's why a provider may recommend formula feeding if you're HIV positive.
- A baby can get HIV if he has cuts or sores in the mouth. When a baby is older, don't share food that's already chewed. Although the risk is small, blood from cuts or sores in the mouth could mix with food when it's chewed. The blood in the food could then infect him.
You can't give your baby HIV by cuddling him, kissing him, bathing him, or generally taking care of him.
When will I know if my baby is HIV positive or not?
Your healthcare provider will test your baby for HIV several times in the first six months. The tests look for the virus in your baby's blood, but it can take a while for HIV to be detectable, especially if your baby is already on an antiretroviral drug.
The first test is likely to happen when your baby is between 2 and 3 weeks old, with follow-up tests at 1 to 2 months and again at 4 to 6 months.
Some babies at high risk of HIV transmission are tested at birth. If your baby tests positive for HIV in two tests, then he's considered HIV positive.
Because HIV can be passed on through breast milk, formula feeding is the only surefire way for a baby to remain HIV negative after birth.
Even if a baby is born HIV negative, he'll have HIV antibodies from when he was in the womb. Antibodies are made by the immune system in response to an infection. Having HIV antibodies is not the same as having the virus.
It can take up to 24 months for the antibodies to clear from your child's blood, so he may have one final test to confirm that his status is HIV negative.
What other care does my baby need?
Your baby will have a comprehensive physical exam soon after birth. Being HIV positive puts you at risk of other infections, and some of these could also spread to your baby. Depending on your health, your provider may test your baby for conditions including herpes, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, syphilis, toxoplasmosis, or tuberculosis.
What happens if my baby is HIV positive?
If your baby is HIV positive, a pediatric HIV specialist will start her on antiretroviral therapy (ART) immediately.
The doctor will explain your baby's ART regimen to you and advise you how to give it daily. The medications need to be given exactly as directed to suppress the virus and prevent it from developing resistance to the drugs.
If your baby has HIV (or even when her diagnosis is uncertain), she'll receive another medication when she's about 6 weeks old to protect her from a serious illness called pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP). This condition is an opportunistic infection. These sorts of infections mainly affect people with weakened immune systems, especially those with HIV, who are more at risk of being harmed by germs that are normally harmless.
Following a medication schedule can be difficult with a new baby. It's a busy and chaotic time to learn to care for a newborn. You'll have frequent follow-up visits with your healthcare provider, which give you the chance to talk about any problems or questions you have.
Your baby will be carefully monitored to check that her condition improves and her immune system is responding well to treatment. Your provider will adjust your baby's drug regimen in response to his test results as she grows.
If my baby is HIV positive, what does it mean for his future?
It's devastating to find out that your baby is infected with a condition as serious as HIV. But treatments for HIV are so effective at eliminating most of the virus from the blood that the immune system can work normally, giving most people with HIV a long life.
Getting treatment early, before the disease has progressed, can mean it's possible to have a long and healthy life.
Visit the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's website for more information and to find an MFM specialist near you.