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Her first reaction was similar to the one she'd had with her HIV diagnosis: disbelief. The idea of bringing an HIV-positive baby into the world was unthinkable.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to keep the baby or not," she says.
"I had internalized the self-inflicted stigma," she says. At UCSF, pharmacists have put HIV pills in special unmarked blister packs so that they look like vitamins, and some women have poured their pills into bottles used to hold prenatals.
To the doctors treating these women, these acts of discretion seem like a minuscule trade-off for ensuring that their patients continue to swallow the medications they need daily--even if it may reinforce the shame and stigma that can come with an HIV diagnosis.
It's thanks to these medications--a cocktail built around the antiviral drug zidovudine, also called AZT--that rates of so-called perinatal transmission of HIV are so low in some parts of the world. S., fewer than 100 HIV-positive babies were diagnosed in 2015, representing a remarkable success story in the history of an epidemic that has killed 35 million.
In fact, newborns were the first group of people exposed to infected blood and successfully protected with drugs from contracting HIV. About 150,000 babies are diagnosed with HIV each year around the world, down from a peak of more than 600,000 per year in the 1990s.
A growing number of HIV experts agree that getting this right doesn't just hold promise for expectant moms and their babies.
If women, properly treated, can end up with HIV levels so low that they can't infect the babies they share blood with in utero, then it stands to reason that adults who keep their viral levels down won't be able to transmit HIV either.The issue becomes one of implementation."Central to that challenge are incorrect but stubbornly held judgments about the virus, like who gets it and why.Stigma is an especially persistent barrier to women seeking testing, not to mention filling prescriptions for and taking drug treatments.When Traylor first brought her medications home, she peeled off the labels so that no one other than her boyfriend would see the drug names and Google them.She also never brought home any information or brochures on HIV from the doctor's office.
And today those drugs have brought mother-to-baby transmission rates to under 2% in the U. "The idea of eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV is officially on the table," says Dr.