How is HIV transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy?

Updated: Apr 02, 2019
  • Author: Ashley T Peterson, MD; Chief Editor: Ronald M Ramus, MD  more...
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The exact mechanism of mother-to-child transmission of HIV remains unknown. Transmission may occur during intrauterine life, delivery, or breastfeeding. The greatest risk factor for vertical transmission is thought to be advanced maternal disease, likely due to a high maternal HIV viral load. [3] Unfortunately, it has been reported that 30% of pregnant women are not tested for HIV during pregnancy, and another 15-20% receive no or minimal prenatal care, thereby allowing for potential newborn transmission. [4]

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