I remember when the AIDS scare first happened in the 80’s. I was in grammar school and a bit clueless as to what the great concern was all about. As time went on though, we all began to learn what having AIDS and HIV really meant.
This is especially true of women -- even mothers and those expecting. Why? Primarily because as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports, several main ways HIV/AIDS is spread is through semen, vaginal fluids and even breast milk. As a result, women are affected, and subsequently, their children as well.
Exactly what happens when this disease is contracted? AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is caused by HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). HIV, left untreated, can kill or damage cells of the immune system. So much so that the body is rendered defenseless in regards to fighting off infections and certain cancers. AIDS is the most advance stage of this type of infection.
We’ve all heard what measures should be taken in order to protect ourselves against contracting this disease -- all of which is very important -- but what if you have already been diagnosed with this condition and may even be pregnant?
In the beginning years, there were few options. Now, women with HIV have at their fingertips drugs that have been developed which fight HIV and even the related infections or cancers that may come about as well. With the necessary lifestyle changes and adherence to the medical regimen prescribed, persons are able to live longer and healthier lives when compared to before these medical advancements.
If pregnant, this is where prenatal care is very important. Just because the mother is infected does not necessarily mean her child will be too.
• Mothers can take anti-HIV drugs during pregnancy
• Delivery can be done by cesarean and before the uterine membrane ruptures
• Mothers need to avoid breastfeeding
Doing the above can decrease the chances of having a HIV infected child down to 2 percent, according to the March of Dimes. With untreated mothers, however, there is a 25-50 percent chance of passing on the infection to the baby.