Remembering World Aids Day -- STDs during pregnancy

by Julie Snyder

World Aids Day 2012Over thirty years ago the first cases of HIV garnered the world's attention.

Since then, over 600,000 Americans have lost their lives to AIDS and more than 56,000 people in the United States become infected with HIV each year.

Almost half of all Americans know someone living with HIV.

In 1988, the World Health Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988.

Each year on December 1st activists around the world use this occasion to raise awareness, fight prejudice, educate and raise money to fight the HIV epidemic.

Will you be doing your part?

World AIDS Day 2012

This year's theme is "Getting to Zero." The focus of the campaign is on "zero" -- zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

Today, one in seven new infections worldwide occurs through mother-to-child transmission. Extensive HIV testing for pregnant women and antiretroviral treatment for those identified as HIV-positive helped prevent 114,000 babies from being born with HIV in 2010, the CDC says.

Further scale up is underway in support of the Global Plan for Elimination of New Infections among Children by 2015.

Preventing mother-to-child transmission

HIV testing and diagnosis

Testing is the only way to identify the nearly 250,000 Americans currently living with HIV who do not know they're infected -- that's 1 in 5 of all Americans with HIV.

I'm not at high risk. Why should I test during pregnancy?
Whether or not you suspect you're infected with HIV, the CDC recommends that all pregnant women have an HIV test at their first prenatal visit.

Why should I test if I'm in a committed relationship
According to, 57 percent of men and 54 percent of women admit to infidelity in a relationship, and 74 percent of men and 68 percent of women said they would commit infidelity if they wouldn't get caught. You may think you're in a monogamous relationship, but you may not be.

HIV testing and diagnosis are the first steps toward connecting people to life-extending treatment, as well as helping to prevent the spread of HIV to partners and to babies.

Treating HIV during pregnancy

Anti-HIV medications are used during pregnancy reduce the amount of HIV in the mother's body and reduces the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

1. During pregnancy women infected with HIV usually receive a combination of at least three different anti-HIV medications.
2. During labor and delivery pregnant women infected with HIV receive intravenous AZT.
3. After birth, babies born to women infected with HIV receive liquid AZT for 6 weeks.

Worldwide, the efforts to tackle this infection pathway appear to be working. Half of all reductions in new HIV infections in the last two years have been among newborn children –– showing that elimination of new infections in children is possible.

In 2011, new infections in children were 43 percent lower than in 2003, and 24 percent lower than 2009, according to the UNAIDS 2012 report.

Are you or someone you know affected by HIV or AIDS? How has it affected your pregnancy?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.