A Project of the New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center. Partially funded by the National Library of Medicine
Fact Sheets can be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.aidsinfonet.org
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Fact Sheet Number 611
PREGNANCY AND HIV
HOW DO BABIES GET AIDS?
The virus that causes AIDS can be
transmitted from an infected mother to her
newborn child. Without treatment, about
20% of babies of infected mothers get HIV.
Mothers with higher viral loads are more
likely to infect their babies. However, no
viral load is low enough to be “safe”.
Infection usually happens just before or
during delivery, when the baby is exposed
to the mother's blood. Drinking breast milk
from an infected woman can also infect
babies. Mothers who are HIV-infected
should generally not breast-feed their
babies. To reduce the risk of HIV infection
when the father is HIV-positive, some
couples have used sperm washing and
artificial insemination. For more information
on HIV reproduction and sperm washing,
HOW CAN WE PREVENT INFECTION
Mothers can reduce the risk of infecting their
babies if they:
• Use antiretroviral medications,
• Keep the delivery time short, and
• Take precautions with breast feeding.
Use antiretroviral medications: The risk
of transmitting HIV is extremely low if
Transmission rates are only 1% to 2% if the
takes combination antiretroviral
therapy. The rate is about 4% when the
mother takes AZT during the last six months
of her pregnancy, and the newborn takes
AZT for six weeks after birth. See Fact
Sheet 411 for more information on AZT.
the mother does not
antiretroviral medications until she is in
labor, two methods cut transmission by
• AZT and 3TC (See Fact Sheet 415)
during labor, and for both mother and child
for one week after the birth.
• One dos