Pregnancy and Newborns
Women with HIV have the fundamental right to make informed, uncoerced choices about their sexual and reproductive health and pregnancy, and have the right to receive non-discriminatory medical care to help them conceive, carry a pregnancy, and give birth to a child. Newborns born to parents living with HIV also have the right to non-discriminatory medical treatment to ensure their health and well being. Due to the fact that HIV can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy and birth and through breastfeeding, women with HIV may be presented with complicated health decisions. While advances in antiretroviral treatment have significantly reduced mother-to-child transmission rates, women living with HIV must consider a host of issues when determining the best course of treatment for their health and the health of their child. Throughout this process, their right to make informed choices about their health care must remain paramount in the face of stigma, discrimination, and misinformation.
Under this category you will find materials related to autonomy, discrimination, informed consent, and parental rights in the areas of HIV prevention, testing, and treatment for pregnant women and newborns.
HIV and Pregnancy: Medical and Legal Considerations for Women and Their Advocates, Center for HIV Law and Policy
This report and guide outlines the medical and legal issues surrounding HIV and pregnancy in the United States. It makes it clear that persistent beliefs among medical, social service, and justice system professionals that women with HIV should avoid childbearing are unsupported by medical science or the law. The guide is the first of its kind, and charts the intersecting medical, ethical, and legal issues that can arise for HIV-positive women who are or may become pregnant. It underscores not only the legal basis, but the public health advantage, of treating women as active partners in their own and their newborns' treatment, and recognizing their right to appropriate counseling and medical care that accommodates their reproductive options. The guide provides a frank, balanced discussion of the medical issues and options women will encounter at all stages or their pregnancies, and how to deal with legal issues that also may arise when their right to make choices are challenged. Click here to download.
USPHS Task Force Reaffirms the Right of Pregnant Women with HIV to Control Medical Decisions Related to their HIV Care, Pregnancy and Prevention of Perinatal Transmission
The USPHS emphasizes that "[a]fter counseling and discussion, a pregnant woman's informed choice . . . should be respected" and that "coercive and punitive policies are potentially counterproductive." More
Integrating Voluntary HIV Counseling and Testing Into Reproductive Care, UN Population Fund & International Planned Parenthood Foundation
This guide aims to provide sexual and reproductive health program planners, managers, and providers with the information necessary to integrate voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) for HIV within their services. VCT is not merely the simple assent to testing, but rather "the process by which an individual undergoes confidential counseling to enable the individual to make an informed choice about learning his or her HIV status and to take appropriate action." Counseling for VCT consists of pre-test, post-test, and follow-up counseling. VCT is a human-rights based approach to HIV testing and treatment that enables patients to make informed decisions; it has been shown to be an effective strategy to facilitate behavior change for HIV prevention, as well as to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV. The guide discusses the benefits of VCT and the barriers to implementation, and provides specific steps for each stage of implementing VCT, including the initial assessment of community need, planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. Click here to download.
Pregnant Women Living with HIV/AIDS: Protecting Human Rights in Programs to Prevent Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV, Center for Reproductive Rights
This briefing paper addresses the fundamental human rights standards that governments must uphold in creating programs to address mother-to-child transmission. These standards include requirements of informed consent, provider-patient confidentiality, and health-care access without discrimination. The briefing paper provides recommendations for government action to ensure that women are treated with dignity and respect through every phase of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care. The paper also discusses the disproportionate effect that HIV has had on women, and how that effect is exacerbated when women are pregnant.
Click here to download.
Information about being HIV positive and pregnant; antiretroviral drugs and pregnancy; and HIV, birth and breastfeeding.
Information from the National Institutes of Health related to HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention, and research.
Practical information on HIV infection, treatment, and prevention.
The Body: HIV and Pregnancy
Accessible information about HIV treatment, prevention, testing, public policy, and other issues.
Center for Reproductive Rights
Resources for pregnant women regarding their legal rights.
Research, policy analysis, and public education related to reproductive health.
Treatment information for health care professionals and HIV-positive people from the London-based, HIV-positive led treatment activist group.
National HIV/AIDS Clinician’s Consultation Center
A compilation of state HIV testing laws. Note that compilations such as these inevitably contain some errors, and thus information obtained here should be checked for accuracy.
Women, Children, and HIV
Resources for HIV prevention and treatment from a collaboration between the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and the Center for HIV Information (CHI) at the University of California San Francisco.
The federal government source for women’s health information.