There have been many advances in the prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child. Without any treatment, the risk of transmission is one in four, about 25% chance. Luckily, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk to less than 1%.

Preventing HIV transmission to the baby takes a lot of steps. It is most important that you see your doctor regularly so that they can monitor your health and the pregnancy. Some of the main steps to prevent transmission are:

  • Prenatal care (attending all visits)
  • Specialty HIV care (all visits)
  • Anti-HIV drugs (during pregnancy, at a delivery and for the baby)
  • Formula feeding (Breastfeeding is strongly discouraged as this increases the chance of transmission)
HIV can sometimes be complicated to treat. There are doctors who specialize in treating people with HIV. You can get a referral to an HIV specialist in your area by calling 1-800-439-4079.

Consult your doctor about the safest method for you to conceive. This will likely include taking antiretroviral medicines and getting an undetectable viral load. There are various methods to help couples conceive that will take into account the HIV status of both partners to reduce the risk. While there is some risk of HIV infection, or HIV-reinfection, there are ways to reduce or eliminate that risk to both parties.

If a woman is negative and her partner is living with HIV, there is no risk of perinatal transmission to the baby. However, pregnant women are at an increased risk for HIV infection and a woman who acquires HIV while pregnant has a greater chance of transmitting the virus to her baby. Women without HIV who have sex partners living with HIV should seek counseling on the multiple measures that can be taken to prevent her from becoming infected, including ensuring her partner treats his virus with pills, taking pills called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and consistently using condoms with each episode of intercourse. Because of the ongoing risk of HIV infection, all women in Illinois are required to be counseled and offered an HIV test both at the initial prenatal visit and again in their third trimester of pregnancy.


Your doctor will recommend a regimen of medications that is best for you and your lifestyle. While there are some side effects to the medications, they usually only last for a short time and are well worth the benefit of preventing transmission to your baby! Please tell your doctor about ALL side effects from your medicines and they may be able to help manage those effects for you as well.
The best decisions about route of delivery are made together between a woman and her doctor. Certain obstetrical factors about your previous pregnancies and the current pregnancy (non-HIV related) will be weighed in the decision.

In Illinois, all pregnant women are eligible for Medicaid - regardless of their legal status in this country. If a woman is uninsured prior to pregnancy, she should go to her nearest Public Aid office to apply for a medical card as soon as possible. Medicaid covers all necessary HIV medications. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program, or ADAP, is a federally funded program that also covers HIV medications for those individuals without insurance or individuals with insurance who meet the financial criteria. While pregnant in Illinois, women covered by Medicaid should not need ADAP to cover medications, but this may be a helpful resource post-partum, if Medicaid is discontinued.

Enhanced case management is intensive case management. It is a field-based service where the case manager brings the services to the client. Enhanced case management is often targeted at especially vulnerable populations, like pregnant women, bringing the case management to their homes and their neighborhoods.

Enhanced case management is provided to women living with HIV who are pregnant, recently delivered, or women with a preliminary positive rapid HIV test on labor and delivery.