Around 36.7 million people around the world suffer from HIV. Of these, about 17 million are women. One of the risks associated with women affected with HIV is Mother-to-Child-Transmission (MTCT) during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or childbirth. Also known as perinatal transmission of HIV, the risk of MTCT can be reduced to less than 1 percent by taking certain precautionary measures.

In this article, we will take a look at HIV and pregnancy, as well as some of the strategies that can help prevent transmission of HIV from the mother to the child.

How to Reduce the Risk of MTCT of HIV?

1. Regular HIV Testing

Sexually active women should regularly test for HIV. Regular HIV screening will help prevent mother to child transmission during pregnancy. Early detection of HIV will help in creating an effective plan to avoid transmission of HIV to the child. It can serve as an effective prevention strategy.

2. Medications

Pregnant women who are HIV positive should be given medications that can be used during pregnancy, delivery, and also during a scheduled cesarean delivery. This can greatly reduce the risk of transmission of HIV from the mother to the child.

HIV during pregnancy goes beyond carrying the child to term and transmission should be considered even after birth. Medications can be given to the babies to prevent transmission of HIV. Generally, babies are given nevirapine for about six weeks after birth. After the end of the course, the babies are given another medicine named sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim. The medications can help prevent pneumonia in babies due to contracting HIV. However, this medication is only given if the babies are found to be HIV positive.

3. Avoid Breastfeeding

when the babies are born, the HIV positive mothers should not breastfeed for up to six weeks. This will also prevent MTCT of HIV after pregnancy. The babies should be given baby milk formula. The formula can serve as an effective and safe alternative to breast milk.

4. Don't Give Pre-chewed Food

Some studies report babies becoming infected with HIV after they were given pre-chewed food by their mothers. In order to avoid transmission of HIV after pregnancy, mothers infected with the disease should avoid giving pre-chewed food to their babies.

Mother To Child Transmission During & After Pregnancy

The above tips can help prevent MTCT of HIV during and after pregnancy. It's important that babies who are born to HIV pregnant mothers are tested for HIV as well. This is usually done about 21 days after birth. A second test is generally taken about 6 months after birth. The test studies the blood of the infant to find traces of the HIV virus.

In case the baby is found to be HIV positive, doctors administer antiretroviral medications similar to one administered to the adults. Babies who receive medications soon after birth are found to have 75 percent chances of not dying from AIDS related illnesses. In short, early testing and medications can help increase the risk that the baby will succumb to the disease.

Learn more about HIV and pregnancy, as well as MTCT when you reach out to STD Labs today.