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HIV/AIDS and Children
Oct 16, 2000

I have a question pertaining pregnancy and children. How is it that some babies that are born from a parent that is HIV positive or maybe even both parents, and still don't acquire the virus?? And if they don't acquire it when they are born or during the 9 months that they are in the mothers stomach how can they still not acquire it when they are being raised by a HIV/AIDS positive parent/parents??

Response from Dr. Luzuriaga

Your first question is a very good question -- lots of research has focused on this. We don't completely understand why all babies born to HIV positive women are not infected, but it seems as if the placenta is a pretty good barrier to passage of HIV during pregnancy. If this barrier is disrupted in any way (e.g., through certain infections, etc.), the risk of transmission is increased. we also know that the transmission of HIV from mom to baby is increased when mom's blood viral load is high, if she has a low CD4 count, or if she has AIDS.

Regarding your second question, HIV is routinely passed by sexual relations, sharing contaminated needles, or blood transfusion. It can be passed from mom to baby during pregnancy, during delivery, and through breast milk. It is very, very uncommonly passed in any other way, sharing a household with an HIV positive person.

KL

Katherine Luzuriaga, M.D.


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