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HIV and pregnancy

If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, you need to know about HIV

You need to take care of yourself and get regular medical checkups for your health and your baby’s health. Your health care provider will ask you questions and check you for conditions that can harm you and your baby. As part of your routine care, you should have a confidential or anonymous HIV test.

What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a disease that weakens the immune system, making it hard for the body to fight infections.

HAVE YOU RECENTLY HAD AN HIV TEST?

  • For your health and your baby’s, you should know if you’re infected with HIV – the virus that causes AIDS. If you are infected, there are things you can do to protect your baby and help yourself.
  • A physician is required by law to perform a confidential HIV test on every pregnant woman in Texas at the first pre-natal care visit and at delivery unless you refuse. You may refuse the test, but there are benefits to knowing your HIV status.
  • If you refuse testing, your health care provider will let you know about where to get an anonymous test done.
  • A “confidential test” means information about the test results will be written in your medical record.  An “anonymous test” means your real name won’t be used and the test results won’t be written in your medical record. No one will know your test results unless you tell them.

HOW WILL A TEST HELP ME?

  • If you are infected with HIV, there are medicines that may prevent your baby from becoming infected and help you stay healthier. You will need to start taking the medicine early in your pregnancy.

HOW WILL A TEST HELP MY BABY?

  • The test will help your baby by alerting you to the need for treatment. If you have HIV, you might give it to your baby during pregnancy, at delivery, or by breastfeeding. Without treatment, about one out of every four babies born to HIV-infected mothers are born with HIV.
  • Doctors have learned that if you are infected with HIV, the drug AZT can greatly reduce your chances of giving HIV to your baby. You may want to discuss this treatment with your health care provider.

HOW CAN I AVOID HIV INFECTION?

  • Abstain from sexual activity. This is the 100% sure way to remain uninfected.
  • Stay in a relationship with one person you know is not infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases and who you know does not share needles or have sexual intercourse with others.
  • Use latex condoms every time you have sexual intercourse unless you are sure your sex partner is not infected. Condoms are not just for preventing pregnancy. When used correctly, condoms can help prevent diseases like HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Drugs and alcohol can hurt you and your unborn baby. If you use drugs, ask about treatment programs to help you stop. If you can’t stop, do not share needles or syringes. Be sure to clean needles with water and bleach between uses.

WHERE CAN I GET MEDICAL HELP?

  • Private doctor’s office
  • Local health department
  • Texas Department of State Health Services Clinics
  • Community health clinics

OTHER SOURCES OF HELP

Call the Texas HIV/STD InfoLine at 1-800-299-AIDS, to find out about HIV testing and medical services in your area.

Call the Baby Love Hotline at 1-800-422-2956 to receive a referral for medical care for you and your baby. Your local community may also have an AIDS information
line.