Pregnancy & HIV

HIV test during pregnancy

HIV infections often go unnoticed for years (see Course of infection). Therefore, every pregnant woman should take an HIV test in order to recognize the potential infection risk for the child and to prevent a possible transmission of the virus. No obligatory HIV test is undertaken as part of a pregnancy. However, since the end of 2007, doctors are obligated to offer an HIV test as part of preventive examinations during pregnancy. The test costs are borne by the health insurance funds.

HIV & pregnancy risks

In the womb

An untreated HIV infection can already transfer to the unborn child in the womb. If the HIV-infected pregnant woman takes antiretroviral drugs as early as possible, this risk is greatly minimized. These drugs are not harmful to the baby.

During childbirth
If the infection is not treated, the child can be infected with HIV during a natural birth from blood and vaginal fluid. In medicinally treated mothers the viral load can be reduced to such an extent that the infection risk for the baby falls to below one percent.

Risk of infection from breast milk
As the virus can also be transferred through breast milk, HIV positive mothers should not breastfeed. Our foundation finances the baby milk for babies exposed to HIV up to 6 months of age, in order to continue to minimize the risk of the illness being transferred from mother to child. HIV exposed children are those of whom it is not yet clear whether or not they have been infected with HIV by their mother.

What happens next?

Is the child infected?
After being born, the child is preventively given HIV medicine for around a month. Directly after birth, as well as in the second and sixth week, the child is tested for HIV. If these are negative, then an infection is very unlikely.

A test can only give an absolute assurance when the baby is between 18 and 24 months old.

 
Further measures
In general, mothers and children should be closely examined by doctors and be given medical care both during and after pregnancy.

Direct aid

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