How to Prevent Mother-Child HIV Transmission
Created by Dr Himani Narula Khanna Updated on Jan 25, 2019
As the United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) Organisation revealed that the theme for this year AIDS day is the Prevention of HIV transmission. So what better way to stop the pandemic by reducing the chances of HIV transmission from a mother to a child? Mother to Child HIV transmission occurs when an HIV-infected woman gives birth to a child. The chances of HIV transmission increase also during breastfeeding.
Prerna (name changed) was a healthy woman in her prime 20s and pregnant. Life was good, till her doctor suggested an HIV test. ‘Why?’ Prerna asked the doctor and the doctor replied, "it is a normal routine test Prerna, nothing to be scared about!" "But, why me doctor?" she asked again in an agitated voice. She knew there was nothing wrong with her and so she told her doctor that she will not go for a test, even if it kept her identity anonymous. So it was a bad shock to the new parents when the doctor informed them that their newborn was HIV infected.
"How?" "Why?" There were so many questions raging in their minds. So, in this blog our expert Dr. Himani Khanna, Developmental Paediatrician, Artemis (Gurgaon), talks about the ways an HIV-infected woman can give birth to a non-HIV infected baby.
How Is HIV Transmitted From Mother To Child?
Mother to Child HIV transmission occurs when an HIV infected woman gives birth to a child. The chances of HIV transmission increase also during breastfeeding. Our expert Dr. Himani Khanna, says that early detection can prevent the transmission, here she talks about the ways an HIV-infected woman can give birth to a non-HIV infected baby.
Ways to Prevent Mother-Child HIV Transmission
Since mother to child transmission being the most common way (90%) of HIV transmission, it is important to know all the preventive measures that may help in preventing childhood AIDS. Here are the steps to prevent transmission. Read here
Preventing Transmission During Pregnancy
- Testing: HIV testing to detect it, as early as possible during pregnancy and or before a woman gets pregnant, is one of the most crucial steps in early detection. So, even if you are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant then do opt for HIV test. It will save you a lot of trouble
Prenatal Treatment: Women with HIV receive HIV medicine during pregnancy and childbirth.
- HIV medications are safe during pregnancy and have not been found to cause any birth defects
- These medications work by preventing the multiplication of virus thereby reducing its amount in the mother’s body. Thus reducing the risk of passing the virus to the fetus!
- These HIV medications get transmitted via the placenta to the fetus and thereby protect the baby from infection
- With HIV medicine the transmission risk from mother to child reduces drastically. The chances of passing the virus to the child are high (15-45%) if the infected mother is untreated, as compared to a mother who has been under treatment (5%)
Preventing Transmission During Child Birth
It is also noticed that the chances of HIV transmissions are high during vaginal deliveries as compared to cesarean deliveries. Hence, doctors advise continuing HIV medications, and a pregnant woman may undergo a planned cesarean section in certain cases.
Preventing Transmission During Breastfeeding
If the mother is on HIV medications she may be encouraged to practice safe breastfeeding practices. However, the mother and family should be well informed about the chances of transmission of HIV via Breast milk and that mothers may avoid breastfeeding. [Know More - 8 Ways to Know What If Child is HIV Positive]
Treatment Advice If A Child Born to An HIV-infected Mother
For an HIV-infected person, the family’s support is extremely important. Awareness among and support from family can help prevent many cases of these mother-child transmissions. On this World AIDS Day, let’s take a pledge to prevent HIV transmission from a pregnant mother to child and try to curb AIDS – the most destructive global pandemics in history.
- Babies born to HIV positive women should receive HIV medication for 4 to 6 weeks after birth.
- Early testing to determine a child’s HIV status is quite important because we must know that a child with HIV-positive status, without treatment half of the infected children, won’t make it to their second birthday.
Those receiving treatment, however, can thrive and remain healthy well into adulthood. [Check More - How to Help HIV Infected Child?]
Did you find this blog on preventing HIV transmission from mother to child, informative? Please do share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.
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