HIV cannot be transmitted from mother to baby unless the mother is living with HIV. If the mother contracts HIV at any point during pregnancy or whilst she is still breast feeding then there is a risk of mother to child HIV transmission.
- HIV is carried in the blood supply of the mother directly to the baby whilst it is growing in her womb
- HIV is carried in the mothers breast milk which is fed directly to her child during breast feeding
It is also possible for HIV to be transmitted during birth.
All pregnant women that present themselves for anti-natal care during pregnancy in Ireland have the opportunity to get screened for HIV as well as other sexually transmitted infections that may be transmitted to the child either during pregnancy, birth or through breast feeding.
Becoming pregnant usually involves a woman having penetrative sex with a man without using a condom. This means that all pregnant women might be at risk of HIV infection and so are offered a test regardless of their background, marital status, race, sexual orientation, age, medical status or whether they have been tested for HIV before.
This is because it is possible to dramatically reduce the risk of mother to baby transmission with the correct medical treatment.
If the correct medical treatment is provided the chances of your baby being born with HIV is reduced to only 2%. This means that there is a 98% chance your baby will be born HIV negative.