Long gone are the days when HIV was a death sentence to those who tested positive to the infection. With better medication and care, people are now living longer and healthier lives.
Better still women who are HIV positive have been given a new wave of hope of becoming mothers to healthy babies despite living with the virus.
Various studies show that more and more HIV positive women around the world are successfully reporting pregnancies and successive delivery to HIV negative babies.
One such study by the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS) shows that almost 25% of Canadian women living with HIV have reported a pregnancy after their diagnosis.
An HIV+ diagnosis is clearly no longer a reason for women to give up motherhood. They can also have a healthy and happy motherhood experience just like HIV negative women. This is thanks to advances in HIV treatment allowing HIV positive women to carry healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies.
By using Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) HIV positive mothers experience improved health benefits and transfer these benefit to their unborn children. This is encouraging many women across the globe to think about having children despite their condition.
Zero Rate of Infection
ARTs have been shown to reduce the incidences of mother-to-child transmission to almost zero. One is every four babies will be born with the virus among HIV positive mothers who are not using ARTs.
Over the last 20 years zero HIV transmission rates from mother to child have been reported among women living with HIV in British Columbia and taking HIV treatment. These impressive rates are due to capacity building by health care providers in BC.
Low Rates of Intentional Pregnancies
Unfortunately despite these impressive numbers, Canadian women living positively are choosing not to get pregnant.
According to the study conducted by (CHIWOS) only 16% of the women studied planned their pregnancies compared to 60.8% of unplanned pregnancies. Interestingly, the number of unintended pregnancies among HIV positive women is higher than that of the general population in Canada (27%).
The researchers found that the reason why there are more unplanned pregnancies among HIV+ women is over-reliance on the male condom. This unfortunately, has a comparatively high failure rate.
Another reason for the unplanned pregnancies is the return of good health for the women using HIV treatment. This then boosts their fertility without their knowledge increasing their chances of getting pregnant.
If you are scared of getting pregnant because you’re HIV+ rest assured that doctors are now fully aware of how mother-to-child transmission takes place. They are now able to reduce the risk of infection to your through proper care and treatment.
To reduce risk of infection to zero they recommend mothers to:
- Take anti-HIV drugs during pregnancy and labour
- Deliver by C-section if possible
- Get educated on anti-HIV drugs for the baby after birth
- Don’t breast-feed
If you’re living positively and desire to be a parent, know that there is nothing stopping you from being one. Contact your health care provider for more information on how to go about it.