When Asiah and her husband found out that she was pregnant last year, her husband was thinking of abortion. Likewise, recently, when Razif & wife found out that the wife was pregnant, they too were thinking of abortion. They had not even gone to see the doctors yet, but they called me to ask for my opinion. They were probably thinking that their baby would definitely be infected.
When I give talks on HIV/AIDS, many had thought that babies born to HIV+ mothers are sure to be infected. Some were surprised when I told them that there is a possibility that the babies won’t be infected.
Actually only a small percentage of babies born to HIV+ mothers are infected. It used it be 30%, then reduced to 10%. Now with all the measures taken – taking medication during pregnancy, caesarian delivery, and no breastfeeding – there is a great chance that the babies would be spared from the virus… contrary to many people’s belief that babies born to HIV+ mothers are 100% sure to be infected.
As a matter of fact, if I were to base it on the cases I’ve dealt with ever since I joined as a volunteer, all the babies have been confirmed negative.
The first few pregnancy cases I dealt with were those of Yah, Fuzi, Maria and Zana. The worse one at that time was the case of Zana’s pregnancy; she was unwed, and she hid her pregnancy (even the doctors at the HIV clinic didn’t know she was pregnant – I was the first to find out… even then because she was seeking my help to get a shelter home for her and I forced her to tell me the whole truth if she wanted me to help her). By the time the doctors started her on medication, she was already in her 3rd trimester.
All the 5 babies born to the 4 ladies above (Zana delivered twins) have been confirmed negative. Sadly though, one of Zana’s twin babies died of an illness, but nothing to do with HIV. The surviving ones are already 5 years old now.
The next few pregnancy cases I got assigned to were Mrs K, followed by Sha. In the case of Mrs K, she herself were amazingly not infected despite Mr K’s very low level of CD4. So with Mrs K not infected, there was no worry about the baby being infected. Sha however, found out about her own infection when she went for her pregnancy tests, and was very concerned about the baby. Her baby is 4 now, and confirmed negative.
Then there was Murni, who was introduced to me after she gave birth. Murni’s daughter, 2 years now, too has been confirmed negative.
Another case was Sharifah – the young unwed mother. She herself only found out she was pregnant during her 3rd trimester (her period had always been irregular, and she’s quite chubby and so she thought she was just a bit more buncit than usual). Her little baby girl is 1 year plus now, and she too has been confirmed negative.
After Sharifah’s case, an old client, Asiah, who had already known she was HIV+, panicked when she found out she was pregnant. But Asiah’s baby is already 10 months now, and so far, tests indicated that the boy is also negative.
Azimah was introduced to me right after she gave birth. Her baby girl is also about the age of Asiah’s baby boy, and again, so far tests had shown negative results.
The last HIV client of mine who gave birth was Halimah, whose baby would be about 6 months by now. And so far so good.
So yeah, that’s a 100% clean slate for my clients. Of course, that doesn’t mean HIV+ couples don’t have to worry about planning to have a child. There are other things to consider, like their CD4 and viral load count. Those with low CD4 and high viral load count would have higher risks.
The only HIV+ children I know, Nuri’s daughter, Farah; Fuzi’s son, Ijam; Lily’s son, Boboy; and Pushpa (whose parents both have died), are aged between 8 – 14 years now. Their mothers had not known of their HIV status until much later, not during their pregnancy. And so none of the precautions mentioned above were taken.
Right now there are 3 pregnancy cases I have to monitor – Liza, the young 20 year old who is separated from her husband; Ina, the Orang Asli whose husband passed away a few months ago; and the latest is Razif’s wife, who, the last I know, had not even informed the doctors yet of her pregnancy.
Which reminds me, I’d better check with the nurse at the ID clinic to see if Razif and wife had arranged for an earlier appointment.