HIV stands for

HIV stands for
Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

Jo Rowan, Senior Health Trainer,
Terrence Higgins Trust

Basically, HIV is an illness.
It attacks your immune system.

The main ways of catching HIV

are through unprotected sex
with somebody who has HIV.

Other ways that the virus
can be passed on

are from a woman to her child
during childbirth,

or things like sharing
injecting drug use equipment.

Over the years I always thought
I would never be able to have a baby.

Sarah. Contracted HIV
through unprotected sex at 17

Couldn't even look at babies.
It was horrible.

Then, as time went on,
it was sort of 15% chance

and then seven per cent chance that the
baby would contract it mother-to-baby.

Then it went down to one per cent.

Many women assume
that if they are pregnant

and they find out they're HIV-positive,

that they'll pass on HIV
to their baby.

But that's not the case these days.

With good treatment, they can
not pass on HIV to their baby.

As unprotected sex was not an option,

Sarah conceived through
artificial insemination

with the help of a clinic
especially for people with HIV.

As soon as we were married
we started trying. And...

It took just over a year
to actually conceive.

I suppose because
it's slightly clinical or technical

in the way that it has to be done,

it may be a bit harder to conceive.

But all worth it in the end.

There are three main ways
in which pregnant women can avoid

passing on HIV to their babies.

The first is that they can take
HIV treatment themselves.

The second is that, in some cases,
they may be offered a Caesarean section

rather than a vaginal delivery,

which can help reduce the chance
of passing on HIV.

The third thing
is to avoid breast-feeding.

It took me probably the first month
to accept that I couldn't breast-feed

and to actually...
for her to stop seeking as well.

That was really hard, really difficult.

I had to be on the right medication.

There's lots of different
combination therapy,

but you have to be on a specific one
that stops the baby from...

the virus crossing over the placenta,
so the baby contracts it.

You have to be on the right medication
to stop that.

I also knew about
the delivery side of things.

They say that they do a Caesarean
because there was less chance

of the baby getting the virus
through birth that way.

But with the viral load
being undetectable,

there is a chance of giving
vaginal delivery as well,

so I just followed all the guidelines

because all I wanted
was my baby to be born safely and well.

You'll be referred to
a specialist HIV doctor

who will help not only
in terms of your own health

and what you need in terms of
treatment and good health,

but will also help prevent
your baby getting HIV.

Had all the scans in the middle of
the normal ones that you might have,

just to check that the baby
was developing normally

and everything was going well,
because of the medication.

I just did what I could to be safe.

When I gave birth,

they also have to be put on
HIV medication

as a preventative measure
for the first month.

Once you've given birth,
then your baby will be tested for HIV.

You should know within a few days
whether the baby has HIV or not

and you'll be given a series
of follow-up tests

just to check that the baby
is doing well and is healthy.

The first one was definitely
very nerve-wracking and...

I get emotional.

I think we actually cracked open
a bottle of champagne and said,

"That's it, brilliant,"

because it was really good
to find out that she didn't have it.

I would just want to reassure women,
no matter where they come from

or what type of strain of HIV they have,

we have very good medications in the UK

and we can treat all pregnant women
who have HIV.

Have the tests done
because if you were positive,

if you can get on the medication
straight away,

it definitely decreases the risk

and hopefully prevent
mother-to-baby transmission.

But also I would say to anybody

that is thinking or thinks that
maybe they can't ever have a life

and have a baby and have a normal life,
the proof is in the pudding.

I'm here, I'm with my husband.

I've been positive 17 years.
I met my husband five years ago.

I've got a lovely home, a lovely husband
and a lovely baby.

So it's just proof it can be done
and it can be done safely.