Q and A


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.


  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Louisa,

    How are you doing? Are you able to get some support?

    It’s common to worry about transmission to a child, especially if you’ve been diagnosed during a pregnancy. What’s important to understand, is that even if this can be a difficult time, you’re already doing the best thing possible for your child. By starting medication you’re ensuring that the risk to your child is reduced. There’s more about this here: http://i-base.info/guides/pregnancy

  2. Louisa

    Am 22 weeks pregnant and was just diagnosed of HIV. I started my ARVs immediately. I just want to know if my unborn baby would not be infected.

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Tumi,

    First, many congratulations on the news that you’re going to have a baby.

    It’s great that you started ARVs. But can I ask why you stopped. Is it because of a stock out, or maybe it was side effects?

    Please talk to your doctor about your break in treatment. But it’s good that you started ARVs again. The aim of taking ARVs is to get your viral load to undetectable by the time your baby is due. Taking ARVs is the best way to look after your health and protect your baby’s health too.

    Do you have access to your viral load results? Please let us know.

    Please see this guide to HIV pregnancy and women’s health.

    If you live in South Africa you can contact the Treatment Action Campaign at this contact link. They can help with local support.

  4. Tumi

    Hi please keep me anonymously. I am 33 weeks pregnant and started my ARV treatment at 4months, on week 26 I stopped and started at week 33 again. Is my unborn infected already? What shall I do?

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Joseph,

    When someone is positive and thinking about the risk of transmission, what’s important is their viral load. If your viral load is undetectable, then yes you can have kids and not worry about the risk of transmission. Please see here: http://i-base.info/u-equals-u/

  6. Joseph

    Hi! I found that in 2015 I am HIV positive, and I started to take my ARV treatment in 2016. My CD4 was 49, since that I take my treatment from that time, my CD4 rise to 111. So I want to date a girl and stay with her and have babies. Is it possible to have a baby without HIV? My girlfriend is negative

  7. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Tebogo,

    Congratulations to you both, it’s good to hear you’re soon to be parents.

    But the clinic are right. Your wife’s ARV medication is actually mother to child treatment. Thousands of women all over the world have had healthy HIV negative babies when taking ARVs.

    The benefits of ARV medication are not just to your wife’s health. Treating her HIV will reduce the risk of your baby becoming HIV positive to almost zero.

    Here’s the guide to HIV, pregnancy and women’s health for much more info.

  8. tebogo

    hi my wife is pregnant and she is also hiv posive she is on antiviral medication so she went clinic several times asking about mother to child treatment and they told her that the baby wont be affected if she takes her medication properly so iwant to know if this is true or she should start with the mother to child treatment emeditly as she is 6months pregnant ???


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