STOP mother to child HIV infection

MILLIONS of children are estimated to die each year around the world, as a result of AIDS-related infections. Most of these children are born of mothers who do not know their HIV status, or mothers who though aware of having HIV, do nothing to protect their babies from infection. Most children born by HIV-positive mothers in Africa and other developing countries, have a high risk of contracting the HIV virus from their mothers either during or after pregnancy.

However, this does not have to be; as you can protect your baby from HIV infection if you act on time.

Get checked and treated early

A mother should get checked for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV before she conceives, and also thereafter. All curable STIs must be treated to reduce the risk of infecting the child. In the case of HIV, it is important to get professional advise from an HIV centre on ways to reduce the risk of passing the virus to your baby. It is crucial to know that not all HIV-infected pregnant women pass on the virus to their babies.

Get information about STIs and HIV

Knowing when and how the various infections affect you and your baby is advisable. Besides HIV, there are a number of other STIs, the more common ones being gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, genital herpes, cytomegallo virus and the human papilloma virus. Some are life threatening while others cause lifetime health problems.

HIV/AIDS And Your Baby
It is estimated that eighty percent of all babies infected with HIV at birth or during breast feeding die before they celebrate their fifth birthday, while twenty five percent die within the first year due to poor health. HIV and AIDS makes a child easy prey to opportunistic bacteria and therefore prone to constant infections and illnesses such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. These children therefore face the risk of not living for long.

How can your baby get infected?
During pregnancy

Through The Placenta. The placenta grows inside an expectant mother’s womb during pregnancy and is formed by the twelfth week from a part of the embryo. It is attached to the umbilical cord and aids in nutrition, respiration and removal of waste products through the mother. HIV can pass through the placenta and the umbilical cord to the baby.

Through fluid in the womb
. HIV can also be present in the amniotic fluid which surrounds the fetus in the womb.

During delivery

A prolonged period between the waters breaking and delivery of the baby also increases the chances of transmitting HIV to the baby. Prolonged labour makes the baby’s passage slow and sometimes complex and therefore may contribute to the baby getting infected, because of exposure to the mother’s blood and secretions.

In addition, if proper care is not taken, other factors like the delivery method and traditional practices can put the baby at risk of HIV infection.

After delivery

HIV is present in the breast milk of an infected mother. It is important for a HIV-positive mother to learn about alternative baby feeding and weaning methods to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission.

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