Mother-to-child transmission

HIV can pass from an HIV-positive mother to her child:

  • During pregnancy – the foetus is infected by HIV crossing the placenta.

  • During childbirth – the baby is infected by HIV in the mother's cervical secretions or blood.

  • During breastfeeding – the baby is infected by HIV in the mother's breast milk (or blood).

Because of this, efforts to prevent HIV transmission need to incorporate strategies which cover the entire period from pregnancy to infant feeding.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.