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Impact of HIV/AIDS on Pregnant Women and their Babies

by Ana

What is HIV/AIDS?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that can develop AIDS. AIDS stands for (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

An individual can be “HIV Positive” but don’t have AIDS. A person infected with HIV may develop this disease within 10 years or longer.

A person who is HIV Positive can transfer this disease to others through infected Blood, Semen and Vaginal liquid.

A person infected with AIDS cannot fight against diseases as they normally do, the risk of carrying infections, Cancers and other health problems increases, which can be life threatening.

Hiv gross

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HIV/AIDS and Pregnancy

If you have HIV/AIDS and you are found to be Pregnant then as early as possible inform your doctor because some medications of HIV/AIDS can be harmful for your baby. In this condition, the doctor will prescribe some other medicines, which will not be harmful for you and your baby.

There are many chances that the disease may transfer to your baby so, proper treatment I really important during this time, in order to save the baby from infection. There are many treatments that can save the baby from spread of HIV.

The baby is also treated for about 6 weeks after birth, regular testing is done to check if the baby is infected or not.

According to the research of Dimes, it is found that 120,000 to 160,000 women in United States are infected with AIDS. About 6,000 to 7,000 infected women give birth to babies every year. About 15,000 children in United States are found to be infected with HIV and 3,000 children die every year. About 90% of babies are found to be infected with this Virus during pregnancy.

Perinatal Transmission

HIV is transferred from mother to baby during Pregnancy, Labor, Delivery or Breastfeeding. This process of transmission is known as Perinatal Transmission. Most of children are infected with HIV due to Perinatal HIV transmission.

How HIV Affects Babies?

An unborn baby has chance of getting HIV, if a mother is HIV Positive and she is not receiving any treatment for the disease. This Virus can be transferred to the baby in the following ways

  • During Pregnancy through Placenta
  • During birth due to contact with the fluids in body.
  • During Breastfeeding through Breast milk.
  • Smoking
  • Use of drugs
  • Deficiency of Vitamin A
  • Malnutrition
  • Infections including STD’s

The treatment of HIV in Pregnant women have shown a considerable fall in the number of babies, who are infected with HIV.

A baby, whose mother has HIV, is born with Antibodies to fight with the Virus. These Antibodies will go away if the baby does not have HIV. It almost takes 18 months for this process. So you can’t tell with surety whether suffering from HIV or not until his Toddlerhood comes.

Causes of HIV/AIDS

Following can be the causes of HIV/AIDS

  • Having unsafe Sex with an infected individual.
  • Contact with the Infected Blood or by sharing of Needles used on infected people.

Symptoms of HIV/AIDS in Pregnant Women

Following are the symptoms of HIV/AIDS in pregnant women

  • Recurrent Vaginal Infections
  • Pelvic diseases
  • Genital Ulcers
  • Problems in Cervical Tissues
  • Flu
  • Swollen Lymph Glands in Neck or Underarm
  • Recurrent fever
  • Night Sweats
  • Quick weight loss
  • Feeling or tiredness
  • Reduced Appetite
  • Mouth Sores
  • White spots in Mouth
  • Headache

symptoms of AIDS

Image by : wikimedia

The Red ribbon is a symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and those living with AIDS.

Image by : wikimedia

Test of Pregnant Women for HIV

Women who are planning to get Pregnant and those who are Pregnant should take test for HIV first. The partner of a woman should also be tested.

The March of Dimes suggests that women in the childbearing age should be tested for HIV before getting Pregnant.
Women who were not tested before getting pregnant should be given counseling to take the test as it is beneficial for their and their baby’s health.

In New York, a latest research from South Africa has shown that more than 2/3 of mothers and other maids pre-chew food for their babies. This can increase the risk of HIV if the maids are HIV-Positive.

Most of the maids had Bleeding gums and Mouth Sores and it was reported that they use to give Bloody chewed foods to babies, which can transfer the diseases to them, if babies were Teething or had any cut in the Mouth.

The process of Pre-chewing is known as Premastication and it is common in United States and Latin America.

Treatment of HIV/AIDS during Pregnancy

The type of drug you take depends on different factors like a place where you are living, drugs available in that area and personal characteristics.

New WHO Guidelines for PMTCT were released in 2010, these guidelines are widely used. Until then, many women can easily access these recommended drugs.

If possible, you should take drugs at the initial stages of Pregnancy like starting 28 Weeks in to Pregnancy. Sometimes it is suggested to delay the treatment till first trimester.

Prevention of HIV/AIDS during Pregnancy

Following are the preventive measure of HIV/AIDS

  • If you are HIV-Positive, proper check-ups and treatment of Anti-retroviral Drugs. Such type of treatments can decrease the risk of baby getting the infection during Pregnancy and after childbirth.
  • Discuss with your doctor about having safe delivery of baby. Having C-Section can lower the risk of baby for getting HIV during birth.
  • Patients are also given Antibiotics and Anti-retroviral Therapy before C-Section.
  • In case of Vaginal birth, the risk of transference of HIV from mother to baby can be reduced due to:
  • Try to keep a short gap between Water breaking and birth of a baby.
  • Avoid using Scalp Electrodes to check the Heartbeat of baby during Labour.
  • Avoid taking Blood samples from baby until he is born.

Don’t worry; your baby will not be taken away just because you have AIDS.

Prevention of HIV/AIDS after Childbirth

  • Try to have sex with only 1 partner.
  • Try to use Water-based lubricants with Condoms because Oil-based lubricants can lead to holes in the Latex Condom.
  • Avoid using needles and Razors of an infected person.

HIV/AIDS can be life-threatening disease but proper care and cure during Pregnancy can reduce the future complications for you and your baby.

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