Pregnancy and HIV
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. The most difficult phase of HIV infection is AIDS. HIV attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells, which help the immune system fight off infections.
Women who are planning to start a family or who are pregnant should be tested HIV as soon as possible. The woman’s partner should also be tested with HIV. The women of childbearing age may have been exposed to HIV should be tested before becoming pregnant.
Factors Leading to HIV Infection
A diagnosis of HIV aids in pregnancy does not mean one can’t have children. One can pass HIV to the baby during the pregnancy, in many ways,
- In labor
- While giving birth
- By breastfeeding
The good news is that there are many techniques to reduce the risk of contaminating the unborn baby with HIV. In most of the instances, HIV is not able to cross the placenta. There are certain infections during pregnancy like the uterine infection which reduces the protection ability of the placenta. Malnutrition is also responsible for the spread of HIV from pregnant mother to the unborn child. If a woman is receiving treatment for HIV during pregnancy and does not breastfeed her baby, it’s possible to greatly reduce the risk of the baby getting HIV.
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A multi-care approach is the most effective way for pregnant women with HIV infection to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery. These aids in pregnancy medicine will address the medical, psychological, social and practical challenges of pregnancy with HIV.
Steps to reduce the risk of passing HIV to baby
A Patient, who is under HIV medication and become pregnant, must not stop taking medication without consulting the general physician. The baby must be tested HIV within 48 hours of birth. They are usually being tested with HIV again at 6 and 12 weeks. A final HIV test must be conducted when the baby is 18 months old.
Safe Treatment For Women having HIV during Pregnancy
According to the recommendations of Public Health Services, the HIV-infected pregnant women must be offered a combination treatment with HIV-fighting drugs to help protect her health. It will also help to prevent the infection from passing to the unborn baby. Zidovudine is the first drug licensed to treat HIV. Now it is used in combination with other anti-HIV drugs and is often used to prevent prenatal transmission of HIV. Zidovudine is administered to HIV-infected women at the beginning of the second trimester and should be continued throughout the pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Side effects of the medicine include nausea, vomiting and low red or white blood cell counts.
According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, it is found that administrating ZDV to an HIV-positive pregnant woman during her pregnancy and to her baby within 8 to12 hours after birth will sharply decrease the risk of transmitting the infection to the baby. The baby should be treated with Zidovudine for the first six weeks of life.