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HIV/AIDs Awareness Month: How Does It Affect Pregnancy?

  • Category: Wellness Tips, News
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  • Written By: Palm Beach Fertility Center

Family Building Options When Living with HIV/AIDs

December is a month to highlight HIV/AIDs awareness and stand in solidarity with those affected during World AIDs Day. As a way to promote awareness, we’d like to stress the importance of getting tested, especially if you’ve never received a test and are considering building your family.

Many people live normal lives with HIV and can even conceive healthy children who are unaffected by the illness. However, some people also experience infertility when living with the illness and may need to consider alternative options for conception or family growth.

If you or your partner has been diagnosed with HIV, Palm Beach Fertility Center can help you determine what options would be best for you and your family. Contact us today at (888) 819-5177 to schedule an appointment or consult with a fertility specialist.

Getting Pregnant with HIV

If you’ve been considering having a baby while living with HIV, we highly recommend speaking with a medical professional before trying to conceive. While taking certain anti-HIV drugs can help some women achieve healthy and successful pregnancies, this is not the case for everyone.

Getting pregnant when you have HIV comes with necessary precautions and potential risks. To begin, it is important to make sure the partner affected is presenting an undetectable viral load before engaging in sexual intercourse without a condom. If a viral load is detected, the HIV-negative partner should be taking medication that prevents HIV transmission (such as PrEP) as an added precaution. The duration of time in which the affected partner has been living with the illness can contribute to the ability to successfully conceive.

Any sexually transmitted disease can negatively affect fertility. Even with the earliest stages of HIV and undetectable viral loads, fertility can still be impacted by the illness, as it can decrease the body’s ability to produce fertility-specific hormones. Additionally, certain HIV-related medications can cause fertility issues over time. When this occurs, there are assisted reproduction options or alternative methods to family building that you may want to consider. If your doctor has said it’s safe to try conceiving but you have been consistently unsuccessful, feel free to contact us for professional fertility testing and evaluation.

HIV Transmission Risk from Mother to Baby

Advancements in medicine have significantly lowered the risk of transmitting HIV from mother to baby, although transmission is still a possibility during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and while breastfeeding. With professional care, medication, and monitoring during the pregnancy process, the risk of transmission could be as low as 0.5% or less.

When a baby is born to a parent with HIV, there are precautions that your doctor may recommend during birth in order to avoid transmission. For example, if a woman is presenting undetectable viral loads, her doctor may deem vaginal delivery safe; however, if viral loads are detected, it is likely that a doctor will instead recommend a caesarean section. Additionally, the infant in question will likely receive HIV medication (such as infant PEP) within hours of birth to add an extra layer of protection. Doctors may also advise against breastfeeding for HIV-positive mothers.

Coping with HIV and Infertility

It can be difficult to cope with infertility in a relationship, especially if it is impacted by an HIV-positive diagnosis in one or both partners. There is an emotional trauma that comes with infertility, which is perfectly okay to feel. A fertility specialist can help you work through the emotional trauma, learn healthy avenues for dealing with infertility, and provide advice for discussing infertility with your partner. If possible, your fertility specialist will also recommend ways to improve your fertility or additional avenues for family growth.

To learn more about the effects of HIV/AIDs on pregnancy and your options for building your family, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (888) 819-5177 or contact us online. We’re here to help you achieve your goal of becoming a parent – whatever that may mean for you.