Statistics have shown that the majority of HIV+ women are of child-bearing age.
With the advances and discoveries that have been made on HIV treatment, it has been made possible for HIV+ people to live longer and healthier lives and moreover mother-to-child transmission as commonly known has been greatly lowered to such an extent that the chances that a mother will pass HIV to her baby are now as low as 1 in 100 when proper steps have been taken.
In Zimbabwe, HIV testing is recommended for all pregnant women. HIV testing is provided to pregnant women in two ways: opt-in or opt-out testing. In areas with opt-in testing, women must ask to be tested and may need to sign an HIV testing consent form. In areas with opt-out testing, HIV testing is automatically included as part of routine prenatal care.
Many people have always asked questions on how an HIV+ and HIV- couple can manage to have children without risking the HIV- person’s status.
Research has proved that it is possible that discordant couples can reduce the chance of passing HIV to one another partner when trying to have a child.
As a result, it is no surprise that HIV+ women and men are interested in having children.
But there is one prevention technique that if properly applied, can reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 95% known as Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), this process requires that pregnant women are tested early in pregnancy for HIV, and if positive, begin treatment themselves, and follow a treatment protocol for their newborn baby which can virtually eliminate the risk of the mother’s HIV being passed on to it.
There is limited access to information, options, and therapies, for those people who are HIV+ and wish to have children of their own. Many health care providers are not discussing family planning with their HIV+ patients. Some do not have adequate information to share, while others openly discourage their HIV+ patients from having children.
If provided access to adequate information and alternative options on how to get pregnant despite your HIV status, it is possible to sire children of your own.
When you have made a choice to have a child, as an HIV+ person, it is important to stand up for yourself and your future child because negative forces are likely to arise.
Different options for reducing the chances of passing on HIV while trying to get pregnant have been suggested by health expects.
Outlined are options to help you understand what must be done to increase the chances of having a health HIV free baby.
l Concordant (HIV+/HIV+) partners: concordant means that both partners are HIV+. This is the most common situation that most people find themselves in. There is need to lower the risk of passing HIV to your partner, as there is the possibility of passing a different strain of HIV (one that may be stronger or more drug-resistant) to your partner.
This is referred to as “super infection.” As with discordant partners, you can reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby or partner by reducing your viral load before trying to become pregnant.
Treating any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) before trying to get pregnant will also lower your chances of passing HIV between partners.
l Discordant (HIV+/HIV-negative) partners: Discordant refers to couples in which one person is HIV+ and the other is not. Sometimes, discordant partners are referred to as “magnetic couples” or “mixed status couples.”
You can lower the risk of passing HIV to the baby or uninfected partner by reducing your viral load (or your partner’s) before trying to become pregnant.
Having an undetectable viral load lowers transmission risk, but does not get rid of the risk altogether. Information about alternative insemination techniques may be helpful as well.
It is largely important as well to seek counselling and proper guidance before you decide to have a baby.
Proper preparation and adequate knowledge is required to ensure that there is an HIV-free generation.
If by any chance, you doubt on whether or not to have a baby, do put it in mind that it is possible. Remember you as a parent have that responsibility towards your future child`s health.