I am pregnant. When do I start taking ARV’s?
I am HIV positive and one month pregnant.
When do I start taking the pills that would prevent my child being infected?
First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy.
The WHO [World Health Organisation] guidelines for treatment in pregnancy recommend all pregnant women wshould start antiretroviral treatment (ART).
They also recommend that ART for the prevention of mother to child transmission should be started as early as possible, and especially after the first 3 months. This is indepdent of the edicison to use treatment for your own health.
ART during pregnancy as the key factor in reducing the risk of transmission of HIV to your baby. This ideally means having an undetectable viral load at the time of delivery.
Viral load refers to the amount of virus in your body. Undetectable means having so little HIV that the standard test cannot find any virus. You can only achieve an undetectable viral load by taking ART. The earlier you can achieve and maintain this, the better.
For more information see this guide on HIV, pregnancy and women’s health. It answers a lot of questions you may also have around HIV and pregnancy in general.
You might also find it useful to read the Treatment Action Campaign’s [TAC] Pregnancy in our lives. It explains guidelines for treatment in pregnancy, for women living with HIV in South Africa. TAC are based in South Africa. They can also give you more information about where you can access further support, or meet with other HIV positive pregnant women.
Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy.
This answer was updated in January 2016 from a question first posted on 24 January 2012.