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How Do Doctors Prevent HIV Transmission During Pregnancy?

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Updated June 18, 2014

Question: How Do Doctors Prevent HIV Transmission During Pregnancy?
HIV transmission from mother to unborn child is relatively easy if steps aren't taken to decrease that risk. In fact, without proper prenatal and postnatal care of mother and baby, the infection rate is about 1 in 4. Luckily, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of HIV transmission during pregnancy to about 2 percent.

Answer:
As was stated about, the risk of HIV transmission from mother to unborn child is about 26% without any treatment or intervention. But fortunately, there is a way to dramatically reduce the risk of HIV transmission during pregnancy.
  • Treating the HIV+ mother with a Retrovir (AZT, zidovudine) containing regimen during pregnancy. Guidelines state the treatment of the pregnant woman may start as early as 14 weeks into the pregnancy.

  • Giving the mother a dose of intravenous (IV) Retrovir during delivery.

  • Treating the newborn with oral Retrovir for six weeks after birth.

Keep in mind that other regimens can be used during pregnancy, depending on the mother's HIV resistance profile.

HIV Medication Fact Sheets

Important Warning!
The HIV medication Sustiva can cause birth defects and therefore can never be used during pregnancy.

Important Information!
Currently there are medication trials looking at single dose of the HIV medication Viramune as a prevention method for vertical transmission. A single dose treatment that prevents HIV in newborn children would greatly assist those countries that do not have the financial resources available for multidrug regimens containing Retrovir.

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  4. At-Risk HIV Populations
  5. Preventing HIV Transmission During Pregnancy

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