The Human Immuno-deficiency virus is a virus that lives in the human blood, breast milk, and sexual fluids.
It can be contacted through vaginal or anal sex, dirty needles from body piercing or tattoos and oral sex. However, a mother can pass HIV to her child through breastfeeding or childbirth.
Two HIV positive parents can give birth to an HIV negative child if the mother and her infant are medically treated with HIV treatment. Also, a mixed status couple (I.e an HIV negative and positive couple coming together) can give birth to an HIV negative child too.
Men living with HIV should start taking the HIV treatment I.e antiretroviral therapy(ART) so as to make his viral load very low to the extent that it would be undetectable and also to reduce the risk of HIV transmission to the woman and her child.
Women living with HIV should start antiretroviral therapy before pregnancy. For the sake of their health (mother and child), also to be able to reduce the risk of HIV transmission during pregnancy. Women already on ART should continue to take it during pregnancy so as to be able to reduce the mother’s viral load to undetectable level to prevent the fetus from getting infected.
However, research has made it clear that a child’s chances of being born with HIV are less than 1 in 100 that is if the mother’s viral load (the concentration of HIV virus in her blood) is undetectable (i.e very low).
The lower the mother’s viral load during pregnancy, the lower the risk of infecting her baby.
Meanwhile after the mother's delivery, her child, should receive ART for 6 weeks. The mother should also refrain from breastfeeding her child to prevent transmitting the virus through breast milk.
Can I have a spouse/sex partner who is HIV positive?
The answer is yes. If you have a partner that is living with HIV, and He/She is on constant HIV medication (antiretroviral therapy) which makes the viral load of the person so low that it becomes undetectable then you, as the HIV negative partner can start taking what is called PrEP.
WHAT IS PrEP?
It is called Pre-exposure prophylaxis. This is a way for people who do not have HIV but are at risk of getting it to prevent it. PrEP is for people who do not have HIV but;
have a sex partner with HIV
Share injection drug equipment with infected persons or persons with unknown status.
Have sex with people whose status is unknown.
PrEP is to be taken every day before possible exposure. Meanwhile, research has proven that this treatment can reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90% and from injection drug equipment by more than 70%.
But if PrEP isn’t taking consistently, it becomes less effective. Therefore it is a strong prevention tool and can be combined with other prevention methods to prevent HIV.
It is, however, safer for you and your spouse to see the HIV specialist for counseling and further treatment.
Written by Funmi Akintade.
Funmi Akintade, a freelance writer and a blogger. You can reach me at email@example.com , instagram at fumeeakins, facebook at funmiakintade.