Can a mother transmit HIV to her child?
Q: I have heard that the chances of vertical transmission of AIDS are around 30 to 40%, which means 60 to 70% of babies won't have any HIV infection at all. Is this true?
A:Without treatment, 60 to 70% chances are that the baby born to an HIV positive mother will not have vertically transmitted HIV infection. However, the probability of HIV infection in the baby can be considerably reduced by treatment of the mother and child. Even one dose of an appropriate medicine, each to the mother during labour and to the baby within 72 hours of birth, reduces the chance of infection considerably. This is available free of cost at many places as a part of the Government's programme to prevent parent to child transmission of HIV. More rigorous regimes reduce the total probability to 1 or 2%. Breast feeding must be avoided to cut down the chance of infection but this can obviously only be done when the mother can afford adequate and safe alternate feeds for the baby.