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HIV and Pregnancy


Early detection and treatment are the key to preventing HIV infection in newborns. Experts agree that all people should be screened for HIV during pregnancy.footnote 1, footnote 2, footnote 3

If you do have HIV, your baby could also become infected. The virus is usually passed on during labor and childbirth. Sometimes it's passed during pregnancy. Breastfeeding can also pass the virus to the baby.


HIV is treated with medicines called antiretrovirals, both during pregnancy and after the birth. This treatment greatly reduces your baby's risk of HIV infection and helps keep you healthy. These medicines prevent the virus from multiplying. When the amount of HIV in the blood is lowered, the immune system has a chance to recover and grow stronger.

Treatment for HIV during and/or after pregnancy may include:

  • Antiretroviral treatment for you.
  • Planned cesarean birth if you have a high viral load. A cesarean birth can reduce the risk of the baby getting infected with HIV.
  • Antiretroviral treatment for your baby.

Related Information



  1. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, et al. (2019). Screening for HIV infection: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA, published online June 11, 2019. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2019.6587. Accessed June 12, 2019
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2006). Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5514a1.htm. Accessed December 12, 2022.
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2017). Human immunodeficiency virus section of Perinatal infections. In Guidelines for Perinatal Care, 8th ed., pp. 502–510. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed December 22, 2022.


Current as of: June 13, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.