Treatment for HIV in Pregnancy
HIV and pregnancy
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a type of infection that directly targets and destroys the immune system. Its most common form of transmission is through sexual contact. The virus enters the body through unprotected sexual activity, which then attaches to CD4 cells and starts its infectious effects on the body and its systems.
The virus does not choose who to infect. Regardless of gender, age, and race, anyone can be infected. One of them includes pregnant women. A study in 2018 stated that around 5,000 people living with HIV are pregnant. This estimation calls for immediate treatment to ensure that the infants born to HIV-positive mothers are virus-free.
How does HIV affect pregnancy?
HIV does not affect a woman’s fertility. Even if she is HIV-positive, she can still have children, just like any other capable woman. The good thing is that the advances in the medical field make it easier to prevent the transmission of infection from mothers to infants.
Perinatal transmission is the approach in which HIV is transferred to the infant. There are three ways this happens. Consider the following:
- During pregnancy – In the nine months of pregnancy, HIV can transfer to the baby through the blood in the placenta.
- During labor – During the delivery, HIV transmission occurs when blood comes into contact with the baby.
- Breastfeeding – There’s a reason why HIV-positive mothers are advised not to perform breastfeeding. It is because there is a high chance that the virus can be transmitted through milk.
What is the treatment option for HIV during pregnancy?
Like other people with HIV, pregnant women should also take antiretroviral drugs to treat the infection. These drugs work by suppressing the virus and preventing its replication process. But how do these drugs function during pregnancy?
Achieving an undetectable status should be the goal for people with HIV. This is the same for pregnant women. An undetectable viral load means the level of HIV in the blood is too low. When someone achieves this condition, there is no way they can transmit the virus to others. This process is also applicable during pregnancy. If a mother is undetectable, she cannot transmit the infection to her baby.
Are antiretroviral drugs safe during pregnancy?
Yes. There are no known severe adverse reactions to taking antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy. There are no documented cases of serious birth defects in which anti-HIV medications are involved. In fact, doctors recommend taking these medications immediately to prevent the transmission of infection to unborn babies.
How long should pregnant women take HIV medications?
Continuous consumption of HIV medications has health benefits for all HIV-positive. Aside from controlling the infection, these medications are what keep you safe from HIV-related complications. These medications can help people with HIV live longer, healthier, and happier. Most of all, HIV drugs reduce the risk of transmission.