HEALTHIER YOU: HIV and pregnancy
Coping with gestational diabetes
BY DR. ANNETTE MAYES
December is a month to celebrate the holidays, but people around the globe set aside its first day to recognize World AIDS Day.
On December 1 and all year round, we should be mindful that HIV-AIDS is very much alive. In the U.S., African-Americans are affected more deeply than any other ethnic group.
Many of those who have the HIV virus, but are unaware of their status, are women. That’s why pregnancy and HIV is such a critical topic. HIV testing is recommended for all pregnant women, and is provided in two ways: opt-in or opt-out testing. In areas with opt-in testing, women may be offered HIV testing. Women who accept testing will need to sign an HIV testing consent form and testing is automatically included as part of routine prenatal care. In areas with opt-out testing, women must specifically decline testing and sign a form refusing the test.
A mother who knows early in her pregnancy that she is HIV-positive has more time to make important decisions. She and her healthcare provider will have more time to decide on effective ways to protect both her health and that of her unborn child. She can also take steps to prevent passing HIV to her partner.
Mother-to-child transmission of HIV is when a woman infected with HIV transmits HIV to her baby during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, or by breastfeeding. Because HIV can be transmitted through breast milk, women with the virus should not breastfeed their babies. In the United States, baby formula is safe and healthy alternative to breast milk.
Although the risk is very low, HIV can also be transmitted to a baby through food that was previously chewed (pre-chewed) by a mother or caretaker infected with HIV. To be safe, babies should not be fed pre-chewed food.
HIV cannot be transmitted through casual contact. But I want mothers-to-be who have the HIV virus to know that taking anti-HIV medications during pregnancy reduces the amount of HIV in the infected mother’s body. Also, anti-HIV medications also pass from the pregnant mother to her unborn baby through the placenta, and can protect the baby from HIV infection.
It is crucial that mothers-to-be stay under the care of their health care provider. You can contact the Las Vegas All Women’s Care offices at (702) 522-9640. Or visit us at 700 Shadow Lane No. 165 (1st floor) in Las Vegas.