Your desire to have children

Whether you are a man with HIV or a woman with HIV, under a doctor’s supervision, it is possible for you to have a healthy baby. If you take certain precautions, it will be nearly impossible for you to pass on your HIV to your baby.

kinderwensBecause your own life expectancy with HIV is nearly normal, your HIV no longer has to get in the way of your desire to have children. Naturally it is unfortunate that – as a positive woman – you are not allowed to breastfeed your baby and that your baby must be given HIV medications for a month. And aside from these medical issues, it can be rather stressful for many (future) parents while they wait for confirmation that their baby is truly free from HIV. But also: how will people in your social environment react to it? Do they already know about your HIV? When will you tell the child about it? Every HIV-positive mum or dad has found her or his own way of dealing with such questions. You can get good tips and support from your HIV nurse.  

Becoming an positive father
You can consult with the hospital about whether you can get your partner pregnant through normal sexual contact or if you had better do that through an IVF or IUI treatment. That depends on whether your partner also has HIV and how much virus there is in your sperm. Via sperm-washing at the AMC in Amsterdam, your actual sperm cells (which do not contain the virus) will be separated from the rest. Then the doctors will double check those sperm cells to make sure they contain no virus. The sperm cells will then be brought into contact with egg cells via IVF or IUI. If your partner does not have HIV, the pregnancy will then run a normal course.

Becoming a positive mother
It involves a lot of work, but the good news is that – in the AMC in Amsterdam alone – there have already been 270 supervised pregnancies of women with HIV in the past few years and not one of the babies was born HIV positive. So which precautions do you need to take?

  • Some HIV medications can damage the embryo or foetus, certainly in the first 12 weeks. That is why you should discuss your plans to have a baby with your internist before you try to get pregnant. That way, you can switch to other HIV medications before you get pregnant.
  • Your internist or HIV nurse will refer you to a gynaecologist who specialises in HIV.
  • If your partner does not have HIV, you might be advised to try self-insemination in order to prevent your partner from getting HIV. Your partner’s sperm goes into a sterile jar and then you put it into your vagina with a syringe (which may have a little tube attached to it). If you are using HIV medications and your viral load has been undetectable for at least half a year, some internists will advise you to try becoming pregnant through normal sexual contact. It is seems more and more certain that your chances of passing on HIV are very slight if you have had an undetectable viral load for at least six months and if you do not have an STI.
  • If you are not yet taking medications for your HIV, you will need to start taking them in the 20th week of your pregnancy to protect your baby. You can stop taking them again after the baby is born.
  • You will give birth to your baby in hospital. You are not allowed to breastfeed your baby, and just to be sure, you will have to give it HIV medications in the form of (sweet) liquids that you put into your baby’s mouth a couple of times a day during the first month.
  • Your baby will be tested for HIV directly after birth, and again one to three months after that. If your child still tests negative for HIV at that point, you can assume that he or she does not have HIV. And just to be totally sure, your child will be tested for HIV one more time a year and a half later.

With IVF (in-vitro fertilisation, also known as test-tube fertilisa- tion): one or more egg cells are fertilised with sperm cells outside the woman’s body. The resulting embryos are then placed in the woman’s uterus.

With IUI (intra-uterine insemina- tion), the sperm is put directly into the uterus through a tube on the day that the ovulation is expected.

The Hiv Vereniging’s game and booklet FAMILY.matters is about families in which someone has HIV. It comes in three languages: Dutch, English and French. Families with HIV can order a free copy of FAMILY.matters from the Servicepunt of the Hiv Vereniging (020-689-2577 - monday, tuesday and thursday from 2 PM till 10 PM).

Treat her like al Lady
In the free book Treat Her Like a Lady, 15 women tell openly about how it is to live with HIV. Their internists and HIV nurses are also interviewed there. The book contains lots of information about a positive pregnancy. You can get a copy of Treat Her Like a Lady from your HIV nurse or from the Servicepunt of the Hiv Vereniging (020-689-2577- monday, tuesday and thursday from 2 PM till 10 PM). There are Dutch and English editions of the book.



Hiv Vereniging Nederland

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020 689 25 77

For questions about living with HIV. Available monday, tuesday and thursday from 2 PM till 10 PM

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