There have been many advances in the prevention of perinatal HIV transmission. 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 person is negative and their partner is living with HIV, there is no risk of perinatal transmission to the baby. However, pregnant people are at an increased risk for contracting HIV, and a person who acquires HIV while pregnant has a greater chance of transmitting the virus to their baby. People without HIV who have sex partners living with HIV should seek counseling on the multiple measures that can be taken to prevent contracting HIV, including ensuring their partner treats their 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, all pregnant people in Illinois are required to be counseled and offered an HIV test both at the initial prenatal visit and again in the 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 patient and their 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 people are eligible for Medicaid - regardless of their legal status in this country. If a person is uninsured prior to pregnancy, they should go to the 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, people 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 people, bringing the case management to their homes and their neighborhoods.

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