Can HIV-Positive People Have Babies?

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Can HIV-Positive People Have Babies?

Seven myths about pregnancy and HIV/AIDS

If you think HIV-positive people can’t have babies, then we have some news for you! HIV treatment is more effective than ever. Not only does it give people increasingly near-average life spans, but it also has the benefit of a radical drop in the likelihood of passing HIV between intimate partners and from mother to child. Don’t let ancient medical reports and ignorance be your guides.

Myth 1: Babies born to HIV-positive mothers are unhealthy.

Reality: With rigorous prenatal care and treatment by knowledgeable providers, the chance that a mom living with HIV will transmit the virus to her baby is less than 2 percent.

Myth 2: HIV-positive women’s bodies can’t handle pregnancy.

Reality All pregnancies are tough on the female body. Thankfully, women living with HIV can take the same advice as HIV-negative women when it comes to taking care of their bodies, which includes getting lots of rest and eating a healthy diet.

Myth 3: HIV-positive men can’t be biological fathers.

Reality: There are a lot of options to help women have babies with HIV-positive men. A woman can take pre-exposure prophylaxis (a pill) to keep herself HIV negative while she and the baby’s father attempt to conceive naturally.

Myth 4: There will be lots of insurance issues with HIV-positive mothers.

Reality: While few insurance plans are perfect, due to the Affordable Care Act, neither pregnancy nor HIV will be so-called “pre-existing conditions” and are no longer grounds to deny or overcharge for health coverage.

Myth 5: HIV meds have negative effects on developing fetuses and newborns.

Reality: The Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry, which has monitored children born to HIV-positive women since the mid-1990s, has found no significant evidence of long-term effects on kids whose moms took HIV meds.

Myth 6: HIV-positive moms have to deliver via cesarean section.

Reality: Untrue! Unless a pregnant woman’s viral load is higher than 1,000 copies/mL, or another condition requires a C-section, the recommendation for a woman living with HIV in the U.S. today is vaginal birth.

Myth 7: This is outrageous—no woman has done this before!

Reality: Because of a lack of mainstream information and support available on having a baby while living with HIV, it may seem as if there are no models for successful HIV-positive pregnancy, but at the last count—in 2006—8,700 women living with HIV had given birth in the U.S.

Adapted from The Body

Roslyn Daniels