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Like Andrea, it is perfectly possible to be HIV positive and a mother

“HIV doesn’t stop me from having children. Prejudices, yes ”. It is Andréa, 29, who sums up, facing the camera, her fight. Some HIV-positive women must indeed educate their relatives so that they understand that this virus, when it is under control, does not thwart their plans for pregnancy.

The clichés on seropositivity and pregnancy, Andréa defeats them by relying on her story. At 22, his companion at the time asked him to be tested. HIV positive result. “My ex’s relatives told me that I could never give birth to him. Some people think that an HIV-positive woman does not have the right to motherhood. I once had a comment under a video posted on the Internet of a lady explaining that women who have AIDS and want children are irresponsible. “

Today, Andréa takes care of three toddlers aged 5, 2 and 7 months. And on the occasion of this Wednesday of World AIDS Day, she hopes to shake things up on pregnancy and HIV.

Nearly normal pregnancies most of the time

“HIV does not change fertility and pregnancy does not worsen the disease,” immediately reassures Jeanne Sibiude, obstetrician-gynecologist at Louis Mourier hospital in Colombes (Hauts-de-Seine). And to describe three situations.

Most of the time, the pregnancy proceeds almost normally. “When you have an HIV-positive patient, the main risk is the transmission of the virus to the baby,” continues the gynecologist. It takes place most of the time during childbirth. Instead of taking a blood test every six months, it will be every month, to check that the viral load remains undetectable [donc intransmissible] during pregnancy. »Which was the case for Andréa. “My three pregnancies went very well,” she confirms. I saw the infectious disease specialist every month to check my viral load and toxoplasmosis. And I had an appointment with the obstetrician every month. My treatment has not changed. No wonder that. “Many triple therapies are compatible with pregnancy,” emphasizes Jeanne Sibiude. If the molecules are contraindicated, the infectious disease specialist will give an equivalent. These women can give birth vaginally without any problem. “

“Disclosure of HIV can be traumatic and difficult to deal with in front of the family”

Second situation: some women discover their HIV status during pregnancy. In France, HIV testing is compulsory in the first trimester. “In this case, the viral load is often high,” says Jeanne Sibiude. The triple therapy must then be effective before childbirth. Not to mention that the announcement of HIV can be traumatic and difficult to deal with in front of the family. “

Third scenario: when a woman is not only HIV positive, but has reached the AIDS stage and the triple therapy has failed to boost her immunity. “They risk catching other infections: tuberculosis, pneumocystosis [une mycose pulmonaire], Kaposi’s sarcoma [des lésions cutanées], continues the obstetrician-gynecologist. What results in a cocktail of drugs, prolonged hospitalizations. But that represents less than 5% of all women with HIV in care. “

Support from parents, benevolence from caregivers

The real difference, which this time concerns all HIV-positive mothers, is the fact that they cannot breastfeed. “In France, breastfeeding is contraindicated to avoid a small risk of transmission, but this is not the case in all countries”, continues the gynecologist.

A little regret for Andréa, who congratulates herself on having received unfailing support from her family. “My parents were very happy when they found out I was pregnant. If the doctors accepted a pregnancy, it was because everything was under control! Likewise, the nursing staff were “wonderful.” They treated me like a normal patient, with a lot of gentleness and empathy. I did not feel any fear from the obstetrician to the nurse. I did not expect that… “

Only 0.3% of babies are HIV positive

The other good surprise for Andréa is that her three children have no trace of the virus. “Before I found out that I was a carrier of HIV, I did not know that an HIV-positive woman could give birth to an HIV-negative child,” she admits. A shared prejudice. According to an Aid survey, 81% of French women and men believe that a pregnant woman carrying HIV risks transmitting it to her future child.

However, the progress in this area is edifying. “Without treatment, in the 1990s, the percentage of transmission from mother to newborn was between 20 and 40%,” recalls Jeanne Sibiude. Today, we are at less than 0.3%. That is, one HIV-positive child in 1,000 to 1,500 HIV-positive women who give birth in France per year. It is one of the great successes of modern medicine. “

“We should be afraid of HIV, not the people who live with it”

Despite everything, “stereotypes are still very strong, that’s for sure,” confirms Jeanne Sibiude. They come to feed the fear of revealing this heavy secret. The researcher has been following a cohort of around 1,000 HIV-positive women in 90 French maternity hospitals for decades. “Since the 1990s, the percentage of women who keep their HIV status secret has not changed: it is around 50%. “

“An HIV-positive person on treatment is not a danger. “

For years, Andrea has been HIV positive, too. But a year ago exactly, for World AIDS Day, she agreed to share her experience on Instagram. “It was not possible to continue to live in secrecy, as if we had done something wrong. Already we are taking a treatment for life, we should not add the guilt … “Before embarking on the confession on the Web, she broke the silence with her parents, her friends, then her acquaintances …

“As I said it, it got less serious. This is why she hopes to help other people living with HIV by being the spokesperson for Aids this year. “An HIV-positive person on treatment is not a danger. She can get married, travel, have children, live a normal life. We are not outcasts, plague victims, bad people. We should be afraid of HIV, not the people who live with it. Because in the meantime, the virus continues to circulate and serophobia to exist. “

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