HIV And Conception

February 23, 2010

HIV Infected Women And Procreation

AIDS is the acronym for "acquired immune deficiency syndrome which is caused by HIV, an acronym for human immunodeficiency virus. Since the 1970s, the world has been rocked with this disease in epidemic proportion. HIV is transmitted through sexual intercourse or through exposure to infected blood or blood products. A woman who is infected with HIV can pass the virus to her unborn baby during her pregnancy, or during the birthing process. Breastfeeding is another vehicle of transmission for this deadly virus.

The risk of passing HIV to an unborn baby has been reduced significantly through the use of drugs that have been highly effective at preventing transmission. When drugs are used in conjunction with other preventative measures, such as formula feeding instead of breastfeeding, the combined treatments can reduce the risk of transmission to less than 2 percent. Just one dose of medication administered to mother and baby can cut the risk by 50 percent.

Planning Ahead

A woman can plan ahead effectively if she knows whether she or her partner are HIV positive. If a family is the desire, then early interventions are able to protect all people in the equation-mother, partner, and child. The primary care provider will be the best person to suggest what types of interventions are best for her personal situation and what adjustments, if any, are necessary to her current treatment. Pregnancy does not negatively affect a woman with HIV and will not worsen her illness.

Protected Conception

There are several ways to limit exposure to the HIV virus and create a protective window for conception to take place. A woman who is HIV positive with an HIV negative partner can use IVF, in vitro fertilization, or IUI, intra-uterine insemination, as a means of conception. This method means that the sperm is placed into the woman's uterus using artificial methods, ensuring the total safety of the man. However, the risk to the baby is not eliminated this way.

If the man is HIV positive then there is only one effective way to impregnate a woman without exposing her or the baby to the virus. Sperm washing is a process where the sperm cells are separated from the seminal fluid in a laboratory, then they are tested for HIV before IVF or IUI takes place.

Seek Advice First

A couple can reduce the chances of passing the virus by limiting unprotected sex to the time of conception. By keeping the exposure limited, the opportunities for HIV to be transmitted between the partners is lessened. If both partners are infected, then it is wise to avoid frequent unprotected sex since there is some risk of infection one or the other with a different strain of HIV.

If a couple does decide to try for conception by unprotected sex, then ask for the advice of a professional on how to best limit risk to themselves and their baby.

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