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HIV Among Pregnant Women, Infants and Children in the United States

January 10, 2014

Fast Facts
  • All pregnant women should be screened for HIV as early as possible during each pregnancy.
  • Women with HIV who take antiretroviral medication during pregnancy as recommended can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to their babies to less than 1%.
  • HIV disproportionately affects black/African American children in the United States.

HIV transmission from mother to child during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or breastfeeding is known as perinatal transmission and is the most common route of HIV infection in children. When HIV is diagnosed before or during pregnancy, perinatal transmission can be reduced to less than 1% if appropriate medical treatment is given, the virus becomes undetectable, and breastfeeding is avoided. Since the mid-1990s, HIV testing and preventive interventions have resulted in more than a 90% decline in the number of children perinatally infected with HIV in the United States.

Rates (per 100,000 Live Births) of Diagnosed Perinatally Acquired HIV Infections, by Year of Birth and Race/Ethnicity 2007-2009 -- 46 States

Rates (per 100,000 Live Births) of Diagnosed Perinatally Acquired HIV Infections, by Year of Birth and Race/Ethnicity, 2007-2009 -- 46 States

The Numbers

Prevention Challenges

The reduction in perinatal HIV infections in the United States represents an important achievement in public health. However, perinatal transmission of HIV continues to occur -- and infant infections can be associated with interruptions of care at any stage of pregnancy for HIV-infected women and their infants.

The following challenges can be categorized as missed opportunities in preventing perinatal HIV transmission:


Other factors also pose prevention challenges, including:

What CDC Is Doing

child and pregnant mother's belly

For more background information view the bibliography and other references used in this factsheet.


  1. The remaining 25% are categorized as "other," which includes hemophilia, blood transfusion, and risk factor not reported or not identified.
  2. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.
  3. Opt-out HIV testing: Pregnant women are told that an HIV test will be included in the standard group of prenatal tests (that is, tests given to all pregnant women), and that they may decline the test. Unless they decline, they will receive an HIV test.

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