If you are already taking anti-HIV drugs and you have an undetectable viral load, you’ll normally continue with your treatment throughout the pregnancy.
HIV treatment is a crucial way for a woman living with HIV to prevent passing the virus on to her baby during pregnancy or birth (this is called 'mother-to-child transmission' or MTCT).
If you were diagnosed before becoming pregnant, you’re most likely already taking antiretroviral medication. As per the British HIV Association’s (BHIVA) new treatment guidelines, everyone should now begin treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis.
If you have just been diagnosed and are not yet on HIV treatment, you’ll be advised to start it straight away, in the same way you would if you weren’t pregnant.
Your doctor will advise you on what treatment you should take, as some drugs are safer than others. After the baby is born, you can talk to your doctor about whether you need to change your treatment or not.
The drug recommendations for women who have been diagnosed later on in their pregnancy are slightly different, and in this case you'll be advised by your doctor.
If your viral load is high you’ll need to have a Caesarean delivery.
If you are on treatment and undetectable, you should be able to have a vaginal delivery.
Research and experience suggest that anti-HIV drugs are safe to use in pregnancy.
There may be a slightly increased risk of giving birth prematurely or having a low birth-weight baby. However, other research suggests antiretrovirals don’t contribute to premature births.
The benefits antiretrovirals have in preventing mother-to-baby transmission outweigh the risks of not taking them.
There are four interventions which can reduce the risk of your child being born with HIV to below 1%:
Next: Preventing mother-to-baby transmission ››
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This article was last reviewed on
by Anna Peters
Date due for the next review: 2/6/2019
Content Author: Kerri Virani
Current Owner: Kerri Virani
Pregnancy booklet, Selina Corkery, NAM aidsmap, 2014
HIV and having a baby, Greta Hughson, NAM aidsmap, 2015
New British guidelines recommend treatment for everyone with HIV by Keith Alcorn, 24 June 2015, NAM
de Ruiter A et al. Guidelines for the management of HIV infection in pregnant women 2012 (updated May 2014) BHIVA, 2014
Townsend C et al. Low rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV following effective pregnancy interventions in the United Kingdom and Ireland, 2000-2006. AIDS 22: 973-981, 2008
Various people talk about their experiences of living with HIV.
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