Some people born with HIV are told from a very young age that they have the virus, while others are not told until they are a bit older.
The important thing is that you understand enough about HIV to face any worries and understand how to look after your health.
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You may be wondering what your HIV means for your health, whether it is still OK to have sex or whether you can do all the things other people do.
When you are born with HIV, this means that HIV was passed to you from your mother. This might have been while she was pregnant and you were in her womb. Or it may have been while you were being born or if you were breastfed.
HIV has to get from one person’s body into another. It is passed on through only a few body fluids: blood, sexual fluids and breast milk. Find out more about HIV transmission.
In the UK all pregnant women are offered an HIV test, because if you know you have HIV you can now usually stop it from being passed on to your baby.
Women who have HIV take medicine while they are pregnant, and doctors make sure they give birth safely to protect the baby. After the baby is born, it is given some HIV medicine as well, and is fed with formula milk instead of breast milk.
When you do all these things there is less than 1% chance of the baby having HIV. Before these things were done, there would have been a much higher chance of a baby catching HIV from its mother. According to the World Health Organisation, the rate can be between 15-45% if no interventions are made.
Our Parenthood section has exhaustive information about HIV positive parenting and mother-to-child transmission.
If you were born in a country which wasn’t able to do all these things, you would have had a higher chance of catching HIV. This is particularly a problem in poorer countries which may not have very good medical facilities.
It could be that your mother didn’t know she was HIV positive when she was pregnant, that she was finding it hard to cope or she had no way of accessing the medical help that she needed.
So sometimes it is just not possible to prevent HIV being transmitted from a mother to her baby.
If you were born with HIV you may feel sad or angry to know that it wasn’t possible to stop you being infected.
Sometimes when people find out they are HIV positive they want to blame someone. These feelings are completely natural and understandable. If you find these feelings too difficult to deal with, you can contact THT Direct.
You can also get in touch with Body and Soul in London. They provide services to children, teenagers, young people and their families if someone in the family is living with HIV.
The good news is that these days you can live a near-normal lifespan if you have HIV. The important thing is to take your treatment correctly, attend medical appointments and look after your general health.
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This article was last reviewed on
by C. Berry
Date due for the next review: 30/9/2017
Content Author: K. Virani
Current Owner: K. Virani
Mother-to-baby transmission NAM (2010)
New guidance on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV World Health Organisation (2010)
HIV transmission NAM
Many patients diagnosed with HIV today will have normal life expectancies, European studies find NAM (2010)
Talking to children about their health and HIV diagnosis CHIVA (2009)
HIV and the Immune System NAM (2009)
Taking Drugs On Time NAM (2009)
Travel restrictions NAM
Mother-to-child transmission of HIV, World Health Organisation HIV/AIDS (2012)
Paida was born with HIV. Watch her story.
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