Posts Tagged ‘HIV/AIDS’

HIV and pregnancy: what you need to know

Friday, December 1st, 2017

More than 1 million people in the United States live with HIV. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS.  HIV attacks specific cells in the body’s immune system. The immune system helps to fight off infections. Even with treatment, it is not possible for HIV to be eliminated completely from the body. So once you get HIV, you have it for life.

Over time, HIV can destroy so many cells in the immune system that the body can’t fight off infections and disease anymore. When this happens, HIV can lead to AIDS.

How is HIV spread?

You get HIV by coming in direct contact with body fluids from a person who is infected with HIV. This includes blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. So HIV can be spread:

  • By having unprotected sex with a person who has HIV. Both men and women can spread HIV. Most new HIV infections in women come from having sex with a man who is infected. Women are more likely than men to get infected through sex.
  • Through contact with an HIV-infected person’s blood. This can happen when sharing needles, accidentally getting stuck by a needle with a person’s blood on it, or contact with other body fluids containing blood.
  • From mother to baby. This is called perinatal transmission. Babies can get HIV from their mothers:
    • Before birth, when the virus crosses the placenta and infects the baby.
    • During labor and delivery from contact with their mother’s blood and vaginal fluids.
    • Through breastfeeding.

Testing for HIV

Approximately 18% of all people with HIV do not know their HIV status. This means that many women who are infected with HIV may not know they have it. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends HIV testing for all pregnant women unless they say that they do NOT want to be tested. HIV testing is typically done during the first prenatal care appointment. The CDC also recommends getting tested again, later in pregnancy, if you’re at risk for getting HIV.

Preventing transmission of HIV during pregnancy

There are ways to reduce the chances of passing HIV to your baby. If HIV is detected as early as possible during pregnancy or before pregnancy you can:

  • Get treatment with medicines that fight HIV. If you’re pregnant and have HIV, you can get medicine to reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby and to protect your own health. HIV medicines are recommended for everyone infected with HIV and most are safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Have a scheduled cesarean delivery (sometimes called a c-section).
  • Make sure your baby receives HIV medicines for 4 to 6 weeks after birth. This reduces the risk of infection from any HIV that may have entered your baby’s body during birth.
  • Don’t breastfeed.

If you’re pregnant, get tested for HIV. Proper treatment can significantly reduce your chances of passing HIV to your baby.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

HIV and pregnancy – reducing the risk of passing it to your baby

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

third trimesterIf women are tested and diagnosed with HIV infection before or early in their pregnancy, they can be given medication to improve their own health and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to their baby. When HIV is diagnosed before or during pregnancy, the risk of a woman passing it to her baby can be reduced to less than 1% if appropriate medical treatment is given and breastfeeding is avoided.

More than 1 million people in the United States live with HIV. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS.  HIV attacks specific cells in the body’s immune system. The immune system helps to fight off infections. Even with treatment, it is not possible for HIV to be eliminated completely from the body. So once you get HIV, you have it for life.

Over time, HIV can destroy so many cells in the immune system that the body can’t fight off infections and disease anymore. When this happens, HIV can lead to AIDS.

Testing for HIV

Approximately 18% of all people with HIV do not know their HIV status. This means that many women who are infected with HIV may not know they have it. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends routine opt-out HIV testing for all pregnant women. This means that pregnant women are typically tested for HIV at their first prenatal appointment unless they say that they do NOT want to be tested. The CDC also recommends getting tested again later in pregnancy if a woman is at risk for getting HIV.

HIV transmission during pregnancy

Women who have HIV can pass it to their babies. This is called perinatal transmission. Babies can get HIV from their mothers:

  • Before birth, when the virus crosses the placenta and infects the baby.
  • During labor and delivery from contact with their mother’s blood and vaginal fluids.
  • Through breastfeeding.

Treatment

Medications cannot cure HIV but they can treat it and slow the progression of the disease. These medications are called antiretrovirals (ARV). ARVs can keep someone with HIV healthy for many years.

If you’re pregnant, get tested for HIV. Proper treatment can significantly reduce your chances of passing HIV to your baby.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Can I get a tattoo if I’m hoping to get pregnant soon?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

My daughter, daughter-in-law and step-daughter all have tattoos, so I thought I’d pass along some info on the subject in case you’re thinking about getting one, too.

Because there are several concerns about tattoos during pregnancy, it’s probably best to wait until after delivery. If you do want a tattoo, be aware of a few important issues.

We don’t know if tattoo dyes and inks affect a developing baby. The first three months of pregnancy are especially important. This is the time when the organs, bones, nerves, muscles—pretty much everything—are developing. At the end of the first trimester, the fetus is only about 3 inches long and weighs 1 ounce. (It’s only as heavy as five quarters.)

Amounts of chemicals that might be small and harmless to an adult can have a much bigger impact on a tiny fetus. So if you’re about to get a tattoo, postpone your pregnancy attempts to a month or so after you lay in the artwork.  If you are already pregnant, wait at least until the second trimester.

Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS are two of many diseases that may be passed along by a dirty needle. If you should catch one of these infections it would be lousy for you, but you could pass it on to your baby, too.  You want to be really sure your tattoo artist is following safety precautions.

During labor, an epidural is a shot given in the lower back to help block the pain of childbirth. Most health care providers will give an epidural to a woman with a tattoo on her lower back. But they may not if the tattoo is recent and still fresh.  There is no clear evidence for or against giving epidurals near tattoos. If you do have a back tattoo, find out the hospital’s policy on epidurals in advance.

I never thought about getting a tattoo, but I must say the ones my girls have are really pretty.