To have a child who is HIV negative, a mom living with HIV definitely has to deliver her baby via Cesarean section, right?
Untrue! Unless her viral load is 1,000 copies/mL or greater, or there's some other medical reason for a C-section, the recommendation for a woman living with HIV in the U.S. today is vaginal birth. Back when research into positive women having babies was new, C-section birth was considered safest because it reduced a newborn's exposure to its mother's blood and other bodily fluids. Now that advances in HIV treatment have made it possible to get levels of HIV in a woman's body down to where they can't even be detected by sensitive tests, there's no longer a need to keep a baby from making that trip through its mama's birth canal. Furthermore, these same advances in treatment may make it possible for some positive women to give birth outside a hospital setting -- if a woman, working with experienced providers, so chooses.