An HIV-positive mother can transmit HIV to her baby any time during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
If you are a woman with HIV and you are pregnant, treatment with a combination of HIV medicines (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) can prevent transmission of HIV to your baby and protect your health.
How Can You Prevent Transmitting HIV to Your Baby?
There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of transmitting HIV to your baby:
Get Tested for HIV As Soon As Possible to Know Your Status
- If you have HIV, the sooner you start treatment the better—for your health and your baby’s health and to prevent transmitting HIV to your partner.
- If you don’t have HIV, but you or your partner engage in behaviors that put you at risk for HIV, get tested again in your third trimester.
- You should also encourage your partner to get tested for HIV.
Take Medicine to Prevent HIV if You Do Not Have HIV But Are at Risk
- If you have a partner with HIV and you are considering getting pregnant, talk to your health care provider about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).
- PrEP may be an option to help protect you and your baby from getting HIV while you try to get pregnant, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.
- Find out if PrEP is right for you.
Take Medicine to Treat HIV
- If you have HIV and take HIV medicine as prescribed throughout pregnancy and childbirth, and give HIV medicine to your baby for 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth, your risk of transmitting HIV to your baby can be 1% or less.
- After delivery, you can prevent transmitting HIV to your baby by avoiding breastfeeding, since breast milk contains HIV.
- If your partner has HIV, encourage your partner to get and stay on treatment. This will help prevent your partner from transmitting HIV to you. People with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
For more information, see CDC’s HIV and Pregnant Women, Infants, and Children.