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HIV Or AIDS During Pregnancy

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infection that can be transmitted from you to your baby during gestation or birth, or afterward via your breast milk. Left untreated, HIV can cause a deadly disease called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

How common is it?  

In 2014, approximately 256,000 women in America were estimated to be HIV positive, and about about 1 in 8 of them didn't know they were infected. As of 2006, about 8,500 HIV-positive women were giving birth each year. The good news: Perinatal HIV diagnoses (i.e., mother-to-child transmission of HIV) fell by 32 percent from 2011 to 2015.

Who is most at risk of HIV?

The most common way for women to contract HIV is by having unprotected intercourse with infected partners or by sharing drug needles with an infected person.

What are the symptoms of HIV?

Depending on the stage of the infection, symptoms can include unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, generalized malaise, prolonged swelling of the lymph nodes, pain, numbness, or tingling all over, skin sores, and/or abnormal Pap tests.

Should you be concerned?

Although AIDS is still a deadly disease, there are drug regimens that can keep the virus in check. And luckily, treatment during pregnancy can dramatically reduce the risk of the mother passing the infection on to her baby. And delivering via elective C-section lowers that risk even more.

What you can do:

The best way to avoid infection is to use condoms during sexual intercourse. If you want to become pregnant, you and your partner should both be tested. (You will be asked if you want to be tested as part of the routine blood work done early in your pregnancy, but your partner will not.)

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