HIV is an abbreviation for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
HCV is an abbreviation for Hepatitis C Virus (also known as hep C)
If you have tested positive for HIV and/or HCV it does not mean your baby will automatically be infected with these viruses.
Many women who are in treatment have put themselves at risk for HCV and HIV and should get tested.
You are encouraged to get tested for HCV if:
- You have received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July of 1992
- You have shared drug equipment (needles, cookers, water, cottons, straws, etc.) even if you shared once
You are encouraged to get tested for HIV if:
- You have had unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral)
- You have shared drug equipment
There are other risk factors, for these viruses, but these are the major ones. If you think you may be at risk talk to your prenatal provider about testing options.
Don’t assume these tests have been done. Many women believe that they are tested for “everything” when they are pregnant or when they are admitted to treatment. Make sure you speak with your provider and request testing if you feel that you might be at risk.
Below is a table that compares HIV and HCV, we hope you find it helpful.
|Transmission||HIV is transmitted when infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or
breast milk enters a persons blood stream.
|HCV is transmitted when infected blood enters a persons blood stream.|
|Risk to Baby||With medication, medical attention, and taking good care of your
self, the rate of HIV transmission risk can be lowered to 2%(2 out
of 100 births).
|The risk of transmitting HCV to your baby is about 4%(4 out of 100
|Treatment||Pregnant, HIV positive women can be prescribed medications that
help to reduce risk of transmission. Some HIV medications may effect
how your methadone is used by your body, so you may need to adjust
|There are no medications, at this time, for pregnant women to lower
risks of transmission.
|Delivery Method||Some women choose to have a C-section, which also helps to reduce
the risk of transmission.
|Choice of delivery (C-section vs. vaginal birth), has not been shown
to increase or decrease risk of transmission.
|Breastfeeding||Women who have HIV should not breastfeed, because HIV is found in
|Women who are HCV positive can breastfeed.|
HIV and HCV Co-infection
If you have HIV and HCV, make sure you are working with a prenatal provider who understands these viruses. This is a tricky medical issue and more research is needed on this topic. Research has shown that if you have both HCV and HIV, your chances of transmitting HCV to your baby increases. As with any condition, treatment should be based on your current situation and recommendations from your medical provider.
Good self-care is one of the most important things for all pregnant women, especially if you have HIV and/or HCV. Eating well, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting rest, exercising, and finding supports can all help you to have a healthy pregnancy.