HIV Pregnancy Hotline Homepage
Medical Information Linking Patients to Care Rapid HIV Testing
About The Hotline
> About the Hotline > Hotline FAQ > Hotline Release of Information Forms > Support Us
HIV Treatment Guidelines & Medical Information
> HIV Treatment Guidelines & Medical Information > Treatment Guidelines > Pregnancy and HIV FAQ > Neonatology/Pediatrics and HIV FAQ > Recent Articles
Rapid HIV Testing
> Rapid HIV Testing > Rapid HIV Testing FAQ > Forms for Reporting a Preliminary Positive Rapid HIV Test > Forms for Monthly Perinatal HIV Reporting  > Rapid HIV Testing Implementation Resources > Expedited Western Blot Test Information
Enhanced Case Management
> Enhanced Case Management > Enhanced Case Management FAQ > Enhanced Case Management Consent Forms > Case Management Protocols > Real Life Patient Stories
Resource Center & Forms
> Resource Center & Forms > All Forms > Updates > Helpful Links > Other HIV Hotlines
Information for Providers
> Information for Providers > Obstetric Health Care Providers > Pediatric Health Care Providers > Social Service Providers
Pregnant & Positive
> Pregnant & Positive > Pregnancy and HIV FAQ > Support Groups > HIV Prenatal Classes
Illinois Perinatal HIV Prevention Act
> Illinois Perinatal HIV Prevention Act > IL Perinatal HIV Prevention Act FAQ > Reporting Requirements
Our Partners
> Our Partners > Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative > Perinatal Rapid Testing Implementation Initiative in Illinois > Illinois Department of Public Health > AIDS Foundation of Chicago > Sources of HIV related Obstetric and Pediatric Care
Contact Us Get Involved  
 Follow Us

For non-pregnancy related questions about HIV, please call 1-800-AID-AIDS
Home > Pregnant & Positive> Pregnancy and HIV FAQ

Pregnancy and HIV FAQ

Risk of Passing HIV to Baby

Finding a Doctor

Getting Pregnant

Medications & Labor and Delivery

Additional Support


Risk of Passing HIV to Baby

Q: What is the chance that I wil transmit the virus to my baby?
A: 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 2%.

back to top back to top


Q: What can I do to reduce my risk of transmission?
A: 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)

back to top back to top

Finding a Doctor

Q: How can I find a good doctor?
A: 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.

back to top back to top

Getting Pregnant

Q: What can I do to become pregnant safely if I am HIV-positive?
A: Consult your doctor about the safest method for you to conceive.  This will likely include taking anti-retroviral 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.

back to top back to top


Q: What if I am negative and my partner is HIV-positive?
A: If a woman is HIV-negative and her partner is HIV-positive, there is no risk of perinatal transmission to the baby.  However, pregnant women are STILL AT RISK for HIV infection and condoms must be used every time to prevent transmission of HIV to the mother while pregnant.  A woman who becomes HIV-positive while pregnant has a greater chance of transmitting the virus to her baby.  Because of the risk of HIV infection, it is recommended that all women in Illinois be tested again for HIV in their third trimester of pregnancy.

back to top back to top

Medications & Labor and Delivery

Q: Are HIV medications really safe for me while I am pregnant?
A: 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.

back to top back to top


Q: How do I decide about vaginal or c-section delivery?
A: 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.

back to top back to top

Additional Support

Q: What if I don't have insurance? How will I afford my medications?
A: 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.  This program varies from state to state, but in Illinois there is no waiting list of ADAP applicants.  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.

back to top back to top


Q: What can I do if I feel overwhelmed?
A: We recommend that you seek out individual help or a support group (online or in person).  HIV and pregnancy can be really isolating.  There are professionals that can help you talk about your feelings, talk to your partner about your diagnosis, safe sex and dealing with learning about your diagnosis during pregnancy.  Many women find out about their HIV status through prenatal testing.  You are not alone.

back to top back to top


Q: What else can I do to become an informed patient?
A: Many women are eligible to see a case manager or social worker.  They can help make sure that your basic needs (food, housing, transportation) are met in addition to helping to link you to support groups or other services that you may need.

back to top back to top


Q: I have more questions! Where can I find more resources?
A: Project Inform has a great website with lots of other fact sheets on pregnancy and HIV.  AIDSinfo also has excellent resources. Other websites for women include www.TheBody.com and www.thewellproject.org  Remember to visit our Helpful Links section too.

back to top back to top