Can You Breastfeed If You Have HIV?
The current recommendation is that people living with HIV should NOT breastfeed or pre-chew food for their babies. Keeping an undetectable viral load greatly lowers, but does not remove, the risk of transmitting HIV through breastfeeding. If you have questions about breastfeeding or desire to breastfeed, talk to your doctor about infant feeding options. Mothers can certainly still preserve healthy bonds with their babies using other feeding methods.
What Is The Safest Way To Conceive?
Yes. A person living with HIV can transmit HIV to their baby any time during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. Remember though that this doesn’t mean that you can’t have children. You just have to work closely with your Dream Team.
Following the guidelines regarding ART can prevent transmission of HIV to your baby and protect your health.
Are HIV Medicines Safe For You To Use During Pregnancy?
Yes - most HIV medicines are safe to use during pregnancy. While your pregnancy journey may feel private, talk with your doctor at your Treatment Site about the benefits and risks of specific HIV medicines during pregnancy or while you are trying to get pregnant.
Your Dream Team will be able to guide you well.
What Should You Ask Your Treatment Team About Having A Baby
You might ask your health care provider some of these questions:
- What is the safest way to conceive?
- Will HIV cause problems for me during pregnancy or delivery?
- Will my HIV treatment cause problems for my baby?
- What are the pros and cons of taking HIV medicine while I am pregnant?
- Is my viral load undetectable?
- How do I avoid transmitting HIV to my partner(s), surrogate, or baby during conception, pregnancy, and delivery?
What Are Other Ways That I Can Have A Baby?
Adopting a baby is also an option for people with HIV who want to begin, or expand their families. You can certainly enjoy parenthood with adoption as this means that you would have full legal responsibility for that child. You would also be giving a child a home.
If you would like to learn more, feel free to reach out to the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago.
Can A Couple Conceive A Baby Without The Uninfected Partner Becoming Infected?
Many couples in which one person is HIV positive and the other person isn't want to have children. With careful planning, it is possible to have a safe and successful pregnancy while preventing HIV from passing to the HIV-negative partner (or to the baby). It is very important to discuss your desires and intentions for childbearing with your health care provider before the woman decides to become pregnant. Your provider can help with decisions about how to conceive safely (if your provider is not familiar with reproductive issues for HIV, ask to see an HIV specialist).
Are There Any More Options For Fathering/Having A Child?
If you are a man living with HIV, the question above may be one that you have considered. While the typical means of conceiving may be some couples’ ‘go-to’ method, there are still other ways in which a person can begin or expand their/her/his family.
Although not currently available in Trinidad and Tobago, a discordant couple can access PrEP, in order to protect the HIV negative partner from getting the virus during sexual intercourse and conception. The negative person should start PrEP at their doctor’s recommendation and approval before the couple tries to have a child.
Another option for conception is through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI). Fortunately, in Trinidad and Tobago, we have two Fertility Treatment Centers that offer these services. They are the Trinidad and Tobago IVF and Fertility Centre and the Barbados Fertility Clinic.
For other questions on HIV and pregnancy,
call the National HIV Helpline 800-4HIV or 800-4448. (This is a toll-free number)
You are not alone. #youarenotalonett.