Parents and HIV: The Unsung Success Story
It's time for the public conversation on HIV/AIDS and parenting to catch-up with the scientific facts.
One of the most remarkable, and yet widely unknown, medical advances of the past 20 years is the remarkable success of HIV-antiretroviral therapies. Today, someone living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and taking antiretroviral therapy has a life expectancy about equal to the national average.
But what’s perhaps more remarkable and paradigm shifting is when it comes to HIV and parenting.
Now, a man or woman on antiretroviral therapy can often have an undetectable blood-level of HIV. If tested for HIV, they would test negative. In short, not detectable means not transmissible. This means that in couples, a man or woman successfully on antiretroviral therapy can conceive through unprotected sex with a non-HIV positive partner, with effectively no risk of disease transmission.
If a woman is on HIV antiretroviral therapy before she gets pregnant, the chance of the baby becoming infected is zero.
Now, rather than the virus, it is social and legal stigma and related issues of poverty and racism that are the largest barriers to men and women living with HIV who want to be parents.