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

June 23, 2015

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 Among Pregnant Women, Infants and Children

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

Additional Resources


  1. Townsend CL, Cortina-Borja M, Peckham CS, de Ruiter A, Lyall H, Tookey, PA. Low rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV following effective pregnancy interventions in the United Kingdom and Ireland, 2000-2006. AIDS 2008;22(8):973-81.
  2. CDC. Achievements in public health: reduction in perinatal transmission of HIV infection -- United States, 1985-2005. MMWR 2006;55(21):592-97.
  3. CDC. HIV Surveillance Report, 2010; vol. 22. Published February 2012.
  4. Fleming PL, Lindegren ML, Byers R, et al. Estimated number of perinatal HIV infections, U.S., 2000. Poster Exhibition: XIV International AIDS Conference. Barcelona, Italy. 2002 Jul 7-12;14: Abstract No. TuPeC4773.
  5. Whitmore SK, Zhang X, Taylor AW, Blair JM. Estimated number of infants born to HIV-infected women in the United States and five dependent areas, 2006. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2011;57:218-22.
  6. Taylor AW, Little KM, Zhang X, et al. Estimated perinatal antiretroviral exposures, cases prevented and infected infants in the era of antiretroviral prophylaxis in the United States. 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2012). Seattle, WA. 2012 Mar 5-7; Abstract No. T-103: Poster 1000.
  7. CDC. Pediatric HIV surveillance (through 2010). Slide set.
  8. Valverde E, Short W, Brady K, Frazier E, Beer L, Mattson C. HIV medical provider's assessment of the reproductive plans of women receiving HIV care: Medical Monitoring Project Provider Survey, 2009. 6th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2011). Rome, Italy. 2011 Jul 17-20; Abstract No. TUPE307.
  9. Whitmore SW, Taylor AW, Espinoza L, Shouse FL, Lampe MA, Nesheim SR. Correlates of mother-to-child HIV transmission in the United States and Puerto Rico. Pediatrics 2012 Jan;129:e74-81.
  10. Taylor AW, Nesheim S, Whitmore S, et al. Estimated number and characteristics associated with perinatal HIV infections, 33 states, United States, 2003-2007. 6th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2011). Rome, Italy. 2011 Jul 17-20; Abstract No. TUPDC0103.
  11. CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data -- United States and 6 U.S. dependent areas -- 2010. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2012;17(No. 3, part A). Published June 2012.
  12. CDC. Revised recommendations for HIV testing of adults, adolescents, and pregnant women in health-care settings. MMWR 2006;55(RR-14):1-17.
  13. Panel on Treatment of HIV-Infected Pregnant Women and Prevention of Perinatal Transmission. Recommendations for use of antiretroviral drugs in pregnant HIV-1-infected women for maternal health andinterventions to reduce perinatal HIV transmission in the United States; 2012 Jul 31:1-235. Accessed August 17, 2012.
  14. Barrow RY, Newman LM, Douglas JM Jr. Taking positive steps to address STD disparities for African American communities. Sex Transm Dis 2008;35(12 Suppl):S1-S3.
  15. Gaur AH, Dominguez KL, Kalish ML, et al. Practice of feeding premasticated food to infants: a potential risk factor for HIV transmission. Pediatrics 2009;124:658-66.
  16. Lampe MA, Smith DK, Anderson GJ, Edwards AE, Nesheim SR. Achieving safe conception in HIV-discordant couples: the potential role of oral preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in the United States. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2011;204:488.e1-8.

Other Resources

Event: National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Slide set: HIV Surveillance in Women

MMWR article: HIV, Other STD, and Pregnancy Prevention Education in Public Secondary Schools -- 45 States, 2008-2010

AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth, & Families

Mother to Child Transmission Resources (AIDS Education and Training Centers)

STDs & Pregnancy


Women, Children, and HIV (University of California, San Francisco)

Cervical Cancer and HIV (

Pregnancy and HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention


  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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