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I am HIV positive but my pregnant wife is not; can my child be infected?

Q: I have tested HIV+. My wife is pregnant now (5 months) but she is negative. What do I do now? Please advise as soon as possible.

A:First get a repeat HIV test for yourself. If negative stop worrying and forget about it. If positive you have to worry about your wife and unborn child. Can you guess about when you got infected? Was it during the pregnancy or before? If during pregnancy, have you had sex with your wife during this time? If you have, then for the sake of your unborn child you must assume that your wife is infected but in the window period. She should therefore be put on anti-retrovirals to prevent transmission to the baby. Consult your doctor for a suitable prescription. One drug that is used is Nevirapine, one dose to the mother during labour and one to the child soon after delivery. If you can afford it, avoid breast feeding the child. If artificial feeds can not be afforded, ensure that the child does not get anything else other than breast milk. Not even water, for 3-4 months. Lastly consult your doctor regarding an elective caesarian section to minimise exposure to blood etc during delivery. Please use a condom when you have sex with your wife.


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