How Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission Occurs.
Mother-to-child transmission is one of the main ways HIV can spread from one to the other. This occurs especially in a positive pregnant mother who does not take antiretroviral medication (ARVs). Why is this so? What is all about these ARVs?
Well, for a positive mother who takes her ARV drugs appropriately definitely will lower her viral load to a undetectable levels (commonly <LDL) thus reducing the risk of infecting her child!
Otherwise, a HIV positive mother can infect her unborn child during:
Ordinarily, the placenta does not allow movement of foreign bodies and by organisms between the mother and the foetus except for nutrients, oxygen and waste products.
Infection can also occur in the last trimester (i.e. from 28 weeks) because the mother is about to deliver. So, the placenta gives chances to the HIV virus since there has been weakening.
b.) Infection can also occur during birth
- The mother labours for long. Actually, prolonged labour can cause the membranes to rupture and therefore, the baby can easily be infected.
- If invasive procedures are used e.g. episiotomy
- If she is attended to by a traditional birth attendant (TBA). Some TBAs do not use gloves while others recycle
c.) Infection can occur after birth (postpartum) through :-
i.) Breastfeeding– Ideally, an HIV positive mother is not supposed to breastfeed but to introduce formula milk to the baby.
Where resources do not permit, an HIV positive mother is advised to exclusively breastfeed up to 6 months then stop abruptly and introduce normal food to the baby.
ii.) Infection can also occur when a HIV positive mother shares sharp objects with the baby e.g. nail clippers
NOTE: A breastfeeding HIV positive mother should take extra precautions on general hygiene and personal care. She should avoid breastfeeding if the nipples are cracked, if she has mastitis (inflammation of the breasts)