HIV and Pregnancy
Early detection and treatment are the key to preventing HIV infection in newborns. Experts agree that all people should be screened for HIV during pregnancy.footnote 1, footnote 2, footnote 3
If you do have HIV, your baby could also become infected. The virus is usually passed on during labor and childbirth. Sometimes it's passed during pregnancy. Breastfeeding can also pass the virus to the baby.
HIV is treated with medicines called antiretrovirals, both during pregnancy and after the birth. This treatment greatly reduces your baby's risk of HIV infection and helps keep you healthy. These medicines prevent the virus from multiplying. When the amount of HIV in the blood is lowered, the immune system has a chance to recover and grow stronger.
Treatment for HIV during and/or after pregnancy may include:
- Antiretroviral treatment for you.
- Planned cesarean delivery if you have a high viral load. This means there is a higher risk of the baby getting infected.
- Antiretroviral treatment for your baby.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, et al. (2019). Screening for HIV infection: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA, published online June 11, 2019. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2019.6587. Accessed June 12, 2019
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2006). Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5514a1.htm. Accessed December 12, 2022.
- American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2017). Human immunodeficiency virus section of Perinatal infections. In Guidelines for Perinatal Care, 8th ed., pp. 502–510. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed December 22, 2022.
Current as of: October 31, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine