Home -> FAQ -> Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about HIV/AIDS -> If I am an HIV-positive woman who is pregnant or thinking about it, are there things I need to know about how passing HIV infection to my baby?

If I am an HIV-positive woman who is pregnant or thinking about it, are there things I need to know about how passing HIV infection to my baby?

Answer

Yes. A pregnant woman can pass HIV/AIDS to her baby while she is pregnant or during the birth of the baby. A mother can also pass HIV/AIDS on to her baby through breastfeeding (there are small amounts of HIV in the breast milk of HIV-infected women). About one out of three babies born to HIV-positive mothers in Ethiopia get HIV/AIDS in one of these ways.

If a woman is HIV-positive, there are several ways to reduce the likelihood she will pass the HIV infection on to her baby. A doctor might give her drugs such as zidovudine (AZT) and nevirapine (if they are available) to a pregnant woman with HIV/AIDS to decrease her chance of passing the infection to her baby. Good nutrition and antenatal care can also reduce this risk. An HIV-positive woman may wish to talk to a counselor or doctor about the advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding her baby.

Testing pregnant women for HIV is not routine in Ethiopia. However, if a woman knows whether or not she is HIV-positive, she can make careful decisions to protect the health of her child if she is pregnant or plans to become pregnant.

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