Virtual Institute on Poverty Related Diseases

14 July 2016


Since HIV infection occurs mostly at a young age, in many cases till the time of detection, couples may not have borne children. If HIV test done during pregnancy is found to be positive, aborting the child is advised. These instances are mostly seen in villages and small cities due to low awareness about positive parenthood,” said Gangakhedkar.

He said such instances can be avoided if awareness about advancement of medical science reaches infected couples and their families. “There are various interventions that are used to increase the chances of delivering an HIV-negative child,” he said.

“Some couples desire to have a child if the first one has HIV infection or has died. Such reasons force the couples to decide on whether to have a child or not,” he said.

Many know that the major route of HIV transmission is from the infected mother to her baby. But not many are aware that the possibility of transmission is only during pregnancy, delivery and breast feeding and that too only 30%.

During these stages, medicines are available to prevent the transmission, he said.

Scientific evidence has shown that if a woman has recently been infected, or is in the last stage of HIV (AIDS), chances of transmission to her child are high. In such cases also the rate of transmission can be reduced, said Gangakhedkar.

“Chances of transmission increase if the woman has CD4 count below 350. In such cases, to prevent the infection from passing to the child, CD4 count can be improved by proper medication and anti-retroviral therapies,” he said.

Couples also have the option of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). Those who cannot afford IVF are suggested to go for artificial insemination. In this, the sperm is washed and the viral load is lessened. This helps in reducing the chance of HIV infection, but cannot be totally avoided, he said.

“Positive couples can lead a healthy life even after developing advanced HIV disease (AIDS). These couples too have the right to have a family and children, for which knowledge and counselling needs to reach them,” said Gangakhedkar.