Many women with HIV are choosing to have children. Although you have HIV, it’s possible for you to have a healthy pregnancy and it is likely your baby will be born healthy and HIV negative. Without antiretroviral treatment or other interventions, about one in four women with HIV transmit HIV to their infants. With effective interventions, the risk of transmission is very low.
There are four recommended steps to reduce the risk of passing on HIV to your baby:
Generally speaking, the lower your viral load the less likely you are to transmit HIV to your baby. The aim of HIV treatment in pregnancy is to achieve an undetectable viral load. If this is not achieved, a Caesarean delivery will be offered and will usually be performed before you go into labour
Notes on treatments:
A planned pregnancy can minimise stress, leaving you time to discuss issues with your partner and your doctor to optimise your health and to switch HIV drugs if necessary. It gives you the opportunity to commence health strategies before pregnancy e.g. taking folic acid. It also gives you a chance to sort out any maternity leave entitlements and to make financial arrangements.
Life doesn’t always go to plan and you may find yourself unexpectedly pregnant. Unplanned pregnancies can range from being an unpleasant shock to a welcome surprise. You have every right to consider all your options.
You may want a baby. You may definitely not want a baby. You may want a baby at some point in the future, but your current health, your work situation or your relationship status might make having a baby just too hard right now. It is your right to decide whether or not to continue with the pregnancy. Pregnancy counselling is available in all states and territories through abortion clinics, women’s hospitals and GPs. If your concerns are related to HIV, it is important to talk to your doctor before making any decisions.