Give your baby everything, but not HIV

 

Pregnancy is a very special time in a woman's life. You have to make serious decisions that affect your and your baby's health, and this is especially important if you have a chronic condition like HIV.

Pregnancy is a very special time in a woman's life. You have to make serious decisions that affect your and your baby's health, and this is especially important if you have a chronic condition like HIV.

Pregnant women need to know their HIV status because antiretroviral treatment (ART) can allow mothers who have HIV to give birth to healthy babies who are HIV negative. Antiretrovirals are available to all HIV-positive South African women for free, even if you don't belong to a medical aid.

When can the virus spread from mother to baby?

An HIV-positive mother can pass the virus on to her baby while she is pregnant, during birth or when breastfeeding. This is called mother-to-child transmission. According to the World Health Organization, the chance that the baby will be HIV positive is 15 to 45% if the mother is not on treatment. With ART, this falls to 5%.

You can have a vaginal delivery or breastfeed on antiretroviral treatment (ART)

ART reduce the viral load of HIV in your body. In other words, it reduces how much of the virus can be found in the blood. The ideal is to have an undetectable viral load. This does not mean you are cured of HIV, but it does make the chance of you passing on the virus very small.

Depending on your health, it may be possible to have a vaginal delivery and breastfeed if your viral load is low enough. So if you're pregnant, commit to knowing your HIV status and get support for you and your baby's best possible future health.

Ask your treating doctor for advice about how best to look after your baby. And if you're a member of Discovery Health Medical Scheme, join the HIVCare programme for comprehensive and confidential help to keep as healthy as possible.

Sources
UNAIDS. Preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, 24 October 2016; accessed 6 December 2017
Western Cape Government. Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT); accessed 5 December 2017.
World Health Organization. Bulletin: Eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission in South Africa; accessed 5 December 2017

Get confidential, cost-effective and clinically sound HIV care

Members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) who are diagnosed with HIV have access to our care programme, HIVCare, for skilled assistance and clinically sound treatment. The programme includes cover for a list of medicine that prevents HIV from spreading from mother to child, as well as some baby formulas to help the baby grow big and strong.

And remember, all DHMS members on a Priority, Saver, Smart, Core or KeyCare plan can avoid a 20% co-payment simply by using use a Premier Plus GP to manage their condition.

Find out more about HIVCare.

 

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