HIV and Getting Pregnant
- Seroconcordant (HIV+/HIV+) partners: Seroconcordant means that both partners are HIV+. You will still want to lower the risk of passing HIV to your partner, as there is the possibility of passing a different strain of HIV (one that may be stronger or more drug-resistant) to your partner. This is referred to as "superinfection." As with serodiscordant partners, you can reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby or partner by reducing your viral load before trying to become pregnant. Having an undetectable viral load lowers transmission risk, but does not get rid of it. Treating any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) before trying to get pregnant will also lower your chances of passing HIV between partners.
It is important to note that the risk of a baby having HIV is based only on the HIV status of the mother. If you are an HIV+ woman interested in getting pregnant, please also see our "Pregnancy and HIV" info sheet, which provides important information about what to do before you become pregnant, care during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and preventing HIV transmission to your baby. Please click the links below to obtain specific details for various partner options (HIV+ woman/HIV-negative man, HIV-negative woman/HIV+ man, same sex partners, etc.).
- HIV+ woman and HIV-negative man (serodiscordant)
- HIV+ man and HIV-negative woman (serodiscordant)
- HIV+ single woman or HIV+ woman in same-sex relationship (serodiscordant or seroconcordant)
- HIV+ single man or HIV+ man in same-sex relationship (serodiscordant or seroconcordant)
- HIV+ woman and HIV+ man (seroconcordant)
- View all the above options on one page
Finding a Provider and Building a Support Network
Regardless of your HIV status, choosing to have a child can be a very difficult and very exciting decision. While having a supportive relationship with a knowledgeable health care provider is a good idea for any potential parent, for people living with HIV it is even more important. A friendly health care provider can talk with you about many issues around pregnancy and having children: which option is right for you, appropriate HIV treatments for you and/or your partner, whether to disclose your HIV status to others (including other providers, your child's pediatrician, additional friends and family), and how to handle the stigma and fear around being HIV+ and pregnant.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a friendly health care provider who is knowledgeable about HIV and pregnancy. Some health care providers simply are not aware of the wealth of information about pregnancy planning for their HIV+ patients. Perhaps even more challenging, though, are the judgmental attitudes still held by many health care providers. When The Well Project's Founder, Dawn Averitt Bridge, asked providers about getting pregnant, she faced some very negative reactions before she found a wonderful provider who supported her desire to have children. For more about Dawn's experience in trying to get pregnant, and subsequently, having two healthy HIV-negative daughters, please read click the links below:
- HIV and Pregnancy: Tough Choices and the Right to Choose (Journal of the Associate of Nurses in AIDS Care, Vol. 13, No. 3, May/June 2002, 11-12 courtesy of the Sophia Forum)
- Breaking the Taboos: Pregnancy Planning and Fertility Issues for PLWHAs in the U.S. (transcript from presentation at AIDS 2010 in Vienna, Austria, courtesy of TheBody.com)
- Baby Love (POZ magazine, December 2002)
The Well Project has started a list of friendly family planning providers who are informed about pregnancy planning for HIV+ people. Even though the providers listed might not be in your area or town, it might be worth a call or email to answer any questions you might have or for possible referrals. You can also contact Shannon Weber with the Perinatal HIV Hotline at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about pregnancy planning and resources for people living with HIV.
Given the existing stigma against HIV+ people having children, you may encounter judgmental responses from others. Therefore, it is important that you build a strong support network of loving family, friends, and providers. Your support network can help you make good decisions and weather the negative, sometimes disheartening moments. If you do not have a good number of friends and family who support you, you may consider starting your own support group; for more information, see our info sheet "Starting a Support Group."
Ultimately, you get to choose when and whether to have children. You deserve to be treated with respect and given access to the information necessary to make an informed decision and plan for your future.
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