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! Using illegal drugs when you are pregnant has been shown to increase the risk of transmitting these viruses to your baby.

Many women who are in treatment have put themselves at risk for HCV and HIV and should get tested.

We encourage you 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.
  • We encourage you to get tested for HIV if:

  • You have had unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral)
  • You have shared drug equipment.
  • Factors HIV HCV
    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 births).
    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 your dose. 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 breast milk. 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.

    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 and avoid transmitting these viruses to your baby.

    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 counselor about being tested, or talk to you prenatal provider about testing options. Don’t assume these tests have already been done!

    Learn about great resources here.


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