Q and A

Question

Why is my husband HIV negative when I am pregnant and HIV positive?

Hi , I am 36, married, and pregnant and have just found out that I am HIV positive, with CD4 of 239.

My question is I never get sick or have any symptoms that I am infected, so now I am worried that I maybe too late to start treatment, because they told me that I need to start when my CD4 count is about 350.

My mind still adjusting to the news cos its only weeks find out I am positive but I have the reason to live that is why I accept that life goes on, its the matter of changing lifestyle and live good healthy life style.

My other worry is that my husband tested 6 months ago and he said he tested negative, checking from that time do you think he lied to me about his result because now I six month pregnant and positive. Is it possible to check when I became HIV positive?

Answer

Thank you for your question.

As you asked a number of questions, I will respond to them one at a time.

Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy.

Although it might be difficult to learn you are HIV positive, it is much better that you found out now. Earlier is always better both for your health and for your baby. You are also right in taking a positive attitude about your life.

Even though your CD4 count is less than 350, you will still get a good response to HIV treatment (ART). The meds will help get you CD4 count become higher again and will protect the baby from HIV. The meds will also protect your husband from HIV in the future. Also, since 2015, ART is recommended for everyone, even at CD4 counts above 500.

Starting ART is important, so that your viral load can become undetectable when your baby is due to be born. This is because having an undetectable viral load is the best way for your baby to be HIV negative.

This guide to HIV and pregnancy has lots more information.

If your husband was HIV positive 6 months ago, it might be good for him to test again now. There is a small chance that he might have recently become HIV positive but that the test didn’t work. He might also really be HIV negative and has just continued to be lucky.

There are many couples were one partner is HIV positive, and the other is HIV negative, even when they haven’t been using condoms. Please follow this link for more information on such cases.

More information on sero-different couples (where one partner is HIV positive and the other is negative) is at this link. The answers to Q 5, 6 and 9 at this link might also help:
http://i-base.info/qa/what-are-the-most-asked-questions

Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy and please let us know if we can help further or again in the future.

Note: This answer was updated in January 2018 and July 2016 from a question first posted online in November 2011.

97 comments

  1. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Becks,

    Is your girlfriend on HIV treatment (ART)? The benefits of ART are not just for your girlfriend’s health. Treating her HIV will reduce the risk of your baby becoming HIV positive to almost zero.

    Without ART, one in four babies born to HIV positive women will be born HIV positive. But ART can almost completely prevent transmission of HIV.

    Here’s the i-Base guide to HIV, pregnancy and women’s health.

    ART can also protect you from HIV.

    Here’s a link to the Treatment Action Campaign in SA for contact and support.

  2. Becks

    hi I’m 33 years old I was shocked when my girl friend tested positive she’s now 8 months pregnant and I tested negative but still I’m not sure what can I do. I’m scared that maybe the virus is hiding help from SA

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Kironde,

    If you’re negative then its possible that your wife contracted HIV from you. If your wife is positive she contracted HIV from someone else.

  4. Kironde

    Hi,i found out that my wife was taking ARVS secretly but when i tested i was negative,so when i opened up to her she said i brought the virus to her, can this happen? i mean can i transmit the virus when i test negative,? thank you .

  5. Roy Trevelion

    Dear Sophia L,

    It’s great that you’re having a baby and really good that you’ve already started ARVs. Testing positive can be a tough time for many people including their partners.

    But looking after your health is a good way to look after your baby’s health. Can you talk to the doctors and ask them to monitor your viral load to see how quickly you get to undetectable.

    The clinic or doctors might be able to help with support for your husband too.

    You can read more in the guide HIV, pregnancy and women’s health.

  6. Sophia L

    Good day

    I am 25 weeks pregnant and just found out that i am HIV Positive. For some reason, i took the news very well maybe because that i am pregnant. Anyway, the doctors put me on medication ( ARV’s ), which i haven’t really had any side effects. My CD4 count is 270 and i don’t know about my viral load as they didn’t give me the results. I am scared that i may affect my baby since i started the treatment late. I spoke to my husband about it, he was in shock and don’t want to accept as he says it is impossible the doctors made a mistake. Either way, i told him that i will take my medication for the sake of the baby and my health. i’m just worried about MTCT. What are the chances that the baby comes negative?

  7. Peter

    PS. I live in St Lucia,. I am 78 yrs. Male straight

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