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Thinking about having a baby

african baby

Many people with HIV have a strong desire to have children – and, indeed, many HIV-positive people are parents. Your HIV status doesn’t mean that you can’t think about having a family.

Can I have a baby if I have HIV?

With the right care, HIV positive women can give birth to children without passing on HIV. There are also options for couples where both partners are HIV positive and where only the male partner has HIV.

In this section you'll find out:

and much more about getting pregnant, staying healthy during your pregnancy and increasing your chances of having a healthy, HIV-negative child.

How can I get pregnant or father a child without passing on HIV?

There is a number of techniques and fertility treatments that can allow people who are living with HIV to become pregnant or father a child safely.

We know now that being on effective HIV treatment means you are very unlikely to pass on HIV. If you or your partner have been on effective HIV treatment and meet certain conditions, you may be able to have unprotected sex in order to conceive . And taking HIV treatment is crucial to preventing HIV being passed on to your baby during pregnancy and birth.

Talk to your healthcare team about your situation and the possibilities available to you.

What do I need to know about getting pregnant?

It’s worth telling your HIV doctor or nurse that you’d like to try to become pregnant to get the best advice: 

  • Pregnancy will be easier if HIV is not causing serious health problems at the moment.
  • If you have a sexually transmitted infection, or any other infection, you need to wait until it has been treated.
  • There are ways to get pregnant that limit the risk of passing HIV on to your partner, if he is HIV negative, or of your HIV-positive partner passing HIV on to you, if you are HIV negative.
  • It is important to follow the advice for all women who are planning pregnancy. This includes stopping smoking, eating healthily, avoiding alcohol, taking care over food poisoning and taking folic acid supplements.
  • There are some anti-HIV drugs which you may want to avoid during pregnancy – your doctor can tell you if it would be safer to change your treatment. However, these are drugs that are very rarely used in the UK now, and the chances are you won’t have to change your treatment.

Who should I talk to about becoming pregnant?

If you’re thinking about having a baby, but aren’t pregnant yet, it’s important to talk to your doctor first, so that he or she can check if you are in good enough health to have a baby safely. Staff at your HIV clinic can also tell you about how to get pregnant without putting your partner at risk of infection.

You can call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221 for a referral to an HIV clinic.

Check out our Help and support page for parents and children with HIV ››

What if we can't conceive?

Some women find it difficult to become pregnant, and there can be medical reasons for this. If you are not pregnant after six months of trying, go back to the doctor. There may be tests and treatment that could help.

Adoption or fostering might be another option. Having HIV does not automatically mean you can’t adopt, but your health and circumstances would be assessed before you could apply, to ensure the child’s needs can be met.

Similarly, you can adopt or foster a child if you are single, or if you are gay or lesbian, as long as you can show that you can meet a child’s needs.

Get free support:

Next: Conception methods for couples affected by HIV ››



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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 21/7/2014 by R. Bignami

Date due for the next review: 1/7/2017

Content Author: S. Corkery (NAM)

Current Owner: G. Hughson (NAM)

More information:

New British guidelines recommend treatment for everyone with HIV by Keith Alcorn, 24 June 2015, NAM

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

The British HIV Association (BHIVA) and the Expert Advisory Group on AIDS (EAGA) Position statement on the use of antiretroviral therapy to reduce HIV transmission, January 2013

British Association of Adoption and Fostering

NHS choices -Infertility

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

Lehman DA & Farquhar C Biological mechanisms of vertical immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) transmission. Rev Med Virol 17: 381-403, 2007

BHIVA Guidelines for the management of HIV infection in pregnant women 2012 (updated 2014)