An HIV-positive mother can transmit HIV to her baby in during pregnancy, childbirth (also called labor and delivery), or breastfeeding.
If you are a woman living 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 Giving HIV to Your Baby?
Women who are pregnant or are planning a pregnancy should get tested for HIV as early as possible. If you have HIV, the most important thing you can do is to take ART every day, exactly as prescribed.
If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for HIV and how to keep you and your child from getting HIV. Women in their third trimester should be tested again if they engage in behaviors that put them at risk for HIV.
If you are HIV-negative and you have an HIV-positive partner, talk to your doctor about taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to help keep you from getting HIV. Encourage your partner to take ART. 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.
If you have HIV, take ART daily as prescribed. If your viral load is not suppressed, your doctor may talk with you about options for delivering the baby that can reduce transmission risk. After birth, babies born to a mother with HIV are given ART right away for 4 to 6 weeks. If you are treated for HIV early in your pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to your baby can be 1% or less. Breast milk can have HIV in it. So, after delivery, you can prevent giving HIV to your baby by not breastfeeding.
For more information, see CDC’s HIV Among Pregnant Women, Infants, and Children.