In general, doctors frequently advise women who have HIV and/or AIDS not to get pregnant because of the affects that pregnancy can have on the mother’s disease, and because of the risk of passing the infection from mother to baby. Because there is a chance of a false positive initial screening, women who test positive for HIV will be given a more specialized test called a Western blot analysis. If that tests positive, then a diagnosis of HIV infection is made.
Why it’s important: There are medications that can be given to pregnant women who are HIV positive that greatly reduce the risk of transmission to the baby. Additionally, specialized care of the mother is required as the pregnancy itself can worsen the degree of the mother’s HIV infection as it suppresses the immune system. Many doctors are careful to avoid performing any procedures during labor that may increase the chances of fetal blood mixing with the mother’s blood. In the past, cesarean section was the preferred delivery method for HIV positive patients. However today vaginal delivery is an option that is offered to HIV positive mothers if viral loads are low.