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Ask the Experts: Pregnant while HIV positive

Ask the Experts: Pregnant while HIV positive
‘I am pregnant with my first child and I recently found out through antenatal testing that I have HIV’ – our expert Ben gives some advice.

Dear Mambo,

I am pregnant with my first child and I recently found out through antenatal testing that I have HIV. I am in shock and unfortunately am not in contact with the father of my baby.

I have started treatment straight away. The doctor explained that if I follow all of his advice there is only a tiny chance the baby could be born with HIV.

It seems like everything is moving too fast, I haven’t had a chance to let all this sink in.

Is there anywhere I can meet other people in the same situation? The medics have been really supportive but I feel lonely and isolated. I live in London.

Kendra-Rose

Hi Kendra-Rose,

Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy. Finding out you are HIV positive is life-changing news, which may feel especially overwhelming during pregnancy, and I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling lonely and isolated.

I would like to reassure you that there is less than a 1% chance of babies in the UK being born with HIV if all the necessary interventions are followed, which your doctor will talk you through. Also, the medication that you have been started on will keep you well and allow you to live a long and healthy life.

The good news is you’re not alone and there is a lot of support available for you. You may be surprised to know there are hundreds of HIV positive parents and families in London.

I would suggest contacting the London-based organisation Positively UK, who offer support for pregnant and new mothers who are living with HIV through their programme From Pregnancy to Baby and Beyond. They also hold groups for new mothers and toddlers where you can meet women in the same situation. Visit www.positivelyuk.org/pregnancy to find out more.

Other organisations that can help:

Positive Parenting and Children (PPC) also offer a number of services including family support, advice, respite for parents and peer support groups where you can meet other families living with HIV. Email Jade at adminpa@ppclondon.org.uk to find out more.

Body and Soul deliver a range of activities and services including a children’s centre which offers creative play, stories, singing and a sensory room. Find out more at: www.bodyandsoulcharity.org

Terrence Higgins Trust offers peer support groups to help you come to terms with your HIV diagnosis. Contact the team on 020 7812 1719 to find out what is available. The charity’s website myHIV.org.uk also provides online peer support, counselling and advice to people living with HIV.

I know this is a very challenging time, but with the right support I hope this can be a happy and exciting experience for you too.

Ben

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