Getting Pregnant While HIV-Positive in 2016
By Dawn Averitt
In many ways, one of our greatest success stories in the fight against HIV/AIDS to date has been our ability to reduce dramatically the rate of new HIV infections being passed from mother to child. On a global scale, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) recently celebrated its one-millionth baby born HIV-free. In the United States, fewer than 200 babies were born with HIV in 2013.
My own children are now 11 and nearly 13, and in most urban settings no one raises an eyebrow when they say "My Mom has HIV." I wish I could say this was universal, but it isn't. Many health care providers are not familiar enough with the information about HIV to know that HIV-positive women can choose to become pregnant, and that, with access to good prenatal care and HIV treatment, their risk of transmitting HIV to their infants is less than two percent. This is why it is so important to find a health care provider who is knowledgeable about HIV and pregnancy – they are definitely out there!
And, now more than ever, there are advances in our understanding of how to prevent HIV infection between partners who are hoping to conceive. With the availability of PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), couples who are sero-different (one is HIV-positive and the other HIV-negative) can consider using HIV treatment to protect the HIV-uninfected partner while attempting to become pregnant.
Increasingly, people with HIV are expected to live long healthy lives and the choice to have a family is an important one for many of us. It is still essential for each woman to consider all of the possibilities and make an informed choice when choosing to become pregnant and ultimately, to become a mother.
The advice is still largely the same. Find a health care provider you can work with who is willing to help you through pregnancy and delivery in a supportive and non-judgmental manner. Make sure your health is stable and any medications you take (for HIV or other reasons) have at least been tested in pregnancy and are believed to be safe. Figure out who your support system is and make sure they are ready and able to help! Be honest with yourself about your choice and make sure it is YOUR choice, not someone else's choice for you to become pregnant. Exercise, eat well, get enough sleep, don't smoke or use substances such as alcohol or recreational drugs, and treat your body like the temple that it is!
Good luck! I hope the information we provide here helps you along the way!