Family Planning : Swiss AIDS Federation

Family Planning

Being HIV-positive does not mean that you cannot be a parent. Antiretroviral therapy has brought huge improvements to life expectancy and quality of life for those living with HIV. Now, it is almost always possible to prevent the risk of transmission to your partner or to the baby.

Baby foot on white terry towel


At conception, the key concern is preventing HIV being transmitted to your partner. If the partner with HIV is following an effective course of therapy, a baby can be conceived the natural way, i.e. through sex without a condom.

If the HIV-positive partner is not undergoing effective therapy there are other, reliable ways of preventing HIV transmission at conception. If the man is HIV-positive, his sperm will be "washed" (the HIV removed from the sperm) before the woman is inseminated artificially. If the woman is HIV-positive, she can conceive by being inseminated artificially with the man's sperm.


Good specialist medical pre-natal care is absolutely key during pregnancy, to prevent HIV being transmitted from mother to child. With the right medical treatment, transmission can now be ruled out in all cases.


If a pregnant HIV-positive woman is receiving effective therapy at the time of the birth, she will generally be able to have a natural birth. If this is not the case, she will have a caesarian section to prevent HIV being passed on to her child.


HIV-positive mothers are advised against breastfeeding in all cases. If they are taking HIV drugs, there is the risk that the child will absorb active agents through their mother's milk, which might then produce side-effects. If the mother is not undergoing HIV therapy, there is a high risk that she will transmit HIV to her child while breastfeeding.

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