There are several options for people living with HIV who want to be parents. Discuss your hopes and plans for having children during your regular medical visits with your health care provider. These discussions, or “preconception care,” can help you, your partner, and your health care provider plan for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Preconception care can vary depending on whether you are a woman or man living with HIV.
What Questions Should I Ask My Health Care Provider About If I Am Thinking About Having a Baby?
You might ask your health care provider some of these questions:
- When do I wish to conceive a baby?
- Is my viral load undetectable?
- If I become pregnant, will HIV cause problems for me during pregnancy or delivery?
- What’s the safest way to conceive?
- How do I avoid transmitting HIV to my partner, surrogate, or baby during conception, pregnancy, and delivery?
- Will my baby have HIV?
- If my partner is on PrEP, will we have a lower chance of transmitting HIV to our baby?
- Will my HIV treatment cause problems for my baby?
- If I become pregnant, what medical and community programs and support groups can help me and my baby?
- If I don’t want to become pregnant, what birth control methods are best for me?
Answers to these questions can help you make the best informed family planning decisions possible.
As A Woman Living With HIV, What If I Become Pregnant Unexpectedly?
If you have HIV and become pregnant, talk to your health care provider right away about medical care for you and your baby. You might also need to plan for your child’s future in case you were to get sick.
If you were being treated for HIV before you became pregnant, your HIV treatment will not change very much from what it was before you became pregnant. You should have a pelvic examination and be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) during your pregnancy. Your health care provider will order tests and suggest medicines for you to take. Talk with your health care provider about all the pros and cons of taking medicine while you are pregnant.
As A Woman Living With HIV, How Can I Reduce The Chance Of Transmitting HIV To My Baby?
If you have HIV, the most important thing you can do is to take medicines to treat HIV infection (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) the right way, every day.
If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for HIV and other ways 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 but you have an HIV-positive partner and are considering getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to help keep you from getting HIV. Encourage your partner to take medicines to treat HIV (ART), which greatly reduces the chance that he will transmit HIV to you.
If you have HIV, take medicines to treat HIV (ART) the right way, every day. If you are treated for HIV early in your pregnancy, your risk of transmitting HIV to your baby can be 1% or less. After delivery, you can prevent transmitting HIV to your baby by avoiding breastfeeding, since breast milk contains HIV.
For more information, see CDC’s HIV Among Pregnant Women, Infants, and Children.
Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).
Is Adoption An Option?
Adopting a baby can be an option for people with HIV who want to begin or expand their families.
The American with Disabilities Act does not allow adoption agencies to discriminate against individuals or couples with HIV. If you are interested in adoption, contact your HIV service provider for help in getting referred to organizations or agencies.
- Page last reviewed: March 10, 2016
- Page last updated: May 18, 2017
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