Guides

Will being pregnant make my HIV worse?

Pregnancy does not make your HIV get worse.

But being pregnant might cause your CD4 count to drop a little. CD4 count is the test that shows whether HIV has damaged your immune system.

The CD4 drop in pregnancy can vary but it is usually about 50 cells. It is not a real reduction in CD4 cells but the same amount in a larger amount of blood (the amount of blood increases when you are pregnant).

The drop is only temporary. Your CD4 count will generally return to your pre- pregnancy level soon after the baby is born.

Sometimes if you start taking ART in pregnancy your CD4 count might not increase very much even though your viral load goes down. If this happens don’t worry, your CD4 count will catch up after the baby is born.

HIV does not affect the course of pregnancy in women who are receiving ART.

HIV also does not affect the health of the baby during pregnancy, unless the mother develops an opportunistic infection.

CD4 cells

CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that helps our bodies fight infection. They are the cells that HIV infects and uses to make copies. Your CD4 count is the number of CD4 cells in one cubic millimetre (written cells/mm3 but in this guide we will just use the number eg 350) of blood. CD4 counts vary but an HIV negative adult would expect to have a CD4 count in the range of 400 to 1,600).

Last updated: 1 December 2015.