When I was in the 8th grade, we had a small paragraph in our biology textbook about HIV.
It wasn't some new disease that sprung up on us all of a sudden, but in a way, it was blanketed. We had no idea of its reality. This led me to question what would happen to pregnant women with HIV and how it would affect their fetus’. The reality of this very question is what piqued my interest in biology, which had remained dormant for a good 12 years of my life.
During pregnancy, there are many ways in which the fetus can be infected. HIV can pass
through the placenta and affect the fetus During delivery, the baby can come into contact with the mother's blood, thereby affecting the child. When a woman's water breaks (i.e., her amniotic sac breaks), the baby can contract HIV. And also during breastfeeding. This is prenatal or perinatal HIV. This can cause numerous catastrophic health complications for the fetus.
Although this is horrifying , prenatal Hiv can almost always be prevented with correct medical
care.This is why pregnant women should always be regularly tested for HIV. Pregnant women with HIV should take medication that will reduce the risk of prenatal transmission of HIV. These medications prevent the multiplication and spread of HIV in the body.
The earlier you start treatment, the more the chances of transmission decrease. These
Medication can help the mother as well as the fetus. In the unfortunate case in which a baby somehow contracts HIV, treatments like ART [anti-retroviral treatment] provide some of the best care. This HIV medication regimen cannot cure HIV, but it helps people with HIV live better lives and reduces the risk of transmission.
I’d like to narrate this through a small anecdote.
The tiny life inside her womb was a miracle. She had never thought she would be a mother, but now she was filled with hope and joy. But there was one shadow over her happiness: she was HIV-positive.
She knew that the virus could be transmitted to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. But she was determined to do everything she could to protect her child. She started taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) as soon as she found out she was pregnant. She also had a scheduled cesarean section, and her baby was given antiretroviral drugs immediately after birth.
Thanks to these interventions, the risk of her baby being infected with HIV was very low. And when her baby was born, he was healthy and HIV-negative.
A miracle of life within
A shadow of fear looms near.
But hope and love will prevail.
And this child will be HIV-free.
The virus can be stopped
With treatment and prevention.
A healthy baby will be born.
A new life to be cherished
This is a story of hope.
A story of triumph
A story of a mother's love,
And the power of medicine.
This woman's story is a reminder that HIV does not have to be a barrier to having a healthy baby. With early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, women with HIV can have healthy babies who are not infected with the virus.
Photo credits: Wix
Written by - Sanaa Jhaveri
Edited by - Prahlad Madhu