Can I have children?
The short answer is an absolutely YES you can!
Many HIV-positive women become pregnant and have HIV-negative children. The risk of having an HIV-positive child is reduced to less than 1% if the mother is on effective antiretroviral treatment to suppress the HIV viral load to undetectable throughout the pregnancy.
The choice of combination treatment for during the pregnancy period is based upon the health of the mother as well as the safety of the unborn child, as some HIV treatments cannot be used during pregnancy.
Natural birth is also being considered much more, given the prevention benefits of HIV treatment, but caesarean section birth is common (as the risk is much lower).
These decisions about birth delivery method will be decided between you and your clinical care team throughout the pregnancy.
Generally the newborn baby is also given a short course of antiretroviral treatment, as additional safeguard prophylaxis.
Guideline information for women of childbearing potential can be found on ASHM’s website.
If the father is HIV positive and the mother is HIV negative, sperm washing is a treatment option where the “infectious seminal fluid” is separated from the sperm. The sperm can then be injected into an egg and conception can occur through in vitro fertilisation.
Some couples are also considering the role treatment may play in natural conception, so be sure to talk to your doctor about fertility options.
Are there synergies between Breast-milk and Undetectable Blood Viral Load?
There is some research which suggests there may be synergies (similarities) between undetectable blood viral load and breast milk compartments (i.e. when blood viral load is undetectable then the other body compartments may also have low presence of HIV), but there are no assurances that this will be the case, and as such breastfeeding is contraindicated/not recommended within the HIV perinatal guidelines.
Further Information about breastfeeding can be found within the ASHM Guidelines Portal.
An Innovative Nipple Guard – Breast Shield – potential for drug and nutrient delivery to prevent MTCT of HIV
A team of researchers from the United States and United Kingdom are developing a device that could disinfect breast-milk and thus prevent viruses such as HIV from being transferred from a mother to her infant. The so-called nipple shield delivery system from JustMilk was recently nominated to receive a seed grant from Saving Lives at Birth Challenge.
The idea for the device emerged from a workshop at the 2008 International Development Design Summit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Immediately, the inventors saw the device’s promise beyond being an anti-HIV mechanism.
“We also noted the larger potential for this device to be developed and used as a drug or nutrient delivery method for breastfeeding infants,” JustMilk co-founder Stephen Gerrard told Devex. Continue Reading.
If you have any questions about HIV treatment, please call QPP’s Health Promotion and Treatments Officer toll free from a land-line on 1800 636 241, use the contact form provided or call (07) 3013 5555 (nationally).