The fact is HIV is a serious disease that does require immediate diagnosing and treatment. Right from the days of its discovery, there has been plenty of questions as well as misconceptions about it. Much advancement has been made in understanding pregnancy and HIV. For getting to know how pregnant women and their child are affected by HIV, it is necessary to know about HIV and how this ailment is contracted.
It means “Human Immunodeficiency Virus”. It is actually a virus which damages the human body immune system with time and also causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). It is the immune systems which work towards keeping the human body healthy, fit and to fight off all types of infections. Majority of the HIV infected people are simply not aware about their contracting this dangerous disease, as they appear and feel healthy. It is without their knowledge that they get affected. The truth is 100% cure is still not available for AIDS or HIV. Several trials and hiv/aids medicine are present to offer better life quality and to extend life of the affected people.
How HIV is contracted?
HIV gets transmitted through bodily fluids and blood, which also includes breast milk, vaginal secretions and semen. The three common ways for contracting HIV is by sharing needles, mother to infant and unprotected sexual intercourse.
How to ascertain if infected with HIV?
Pregnant women or those planning to become mother should have HIV test immediately. If already pregnant, then HIV test can be requested at any point of time during the pregnancy, most probably during initial prenatal appointment. This will help to reduce chances of transmitting the disease from mother to baby.
In case, the individual is tested HIV negative and shares needles or unprotected sex, then she is to be tested again during pregnancy. Testing is to be conducted again during 3rd trimester since virus may take time to be found in the blood tests. Testing is a better idea, since the person could be exposed to HIV and not knows about it.
Will the baby contact HIV if mother is HIV positive?
If the pregnant woman is found to be HIV positive, then hiv/aids treatment during pregnancy should be taken immediately. Recommended treatment protocol is to be followed during labor, pregnancy, delivery as well as breastfeeding and beyond that for reducing chances of HIV infections to be passed onto the baby. According to the health experts, it is very much possible to delivery HIV negative baby. Antiviral treatment is to be begun as early as possible to ensure infection is not passed onto the baby. Hence, antiviral treatment protocol is an absolute must for the newborn. Majority of the HIV positive women have delivered their babies through C-section. But some HIV positive women can have vaginal deliveries, in case, they have low viral load (undetectable or low level HIV in blood).
Again, HIV positive women are strongly recommended to provide their infants with baby formula only, as it is stated to be safe feeding method.