We know that women face particular challenges in life and in living with HIV. As a woman you are often the main carer, are looking after children, and may be the main bread winner or reliant on a partner for this. For women living with HIV this can be even more challenging as you’ll also be managing treatments, wondering about pregnancy and childcare and your relationships.
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HIV Positive and Pregnant? Or are you, or your partner, HIV positive and you want to get pregnant?
If you were diagnosed while pregnant, are having your first child since your diagnosis, or are living with HIV and planning to get pregnant, we can provide emotional and practical support including information about reducing the risk of onward transmission and treatment options.
Please read our ‘The Pregnancy Journey – a practical guide’ below, it’s full of information to help you have a healthy, happy journey through pregnancy to baby and beyond including many of the questions that are asked by women living with HIV who are planning to have a baby or are pregnant.
If you would like to receive support and information or talk to someone else who has had a child whilst living with HIV then please call 020 7713 0444 and ask for Angelina or email
Our groups offer the opportunity to meet other people living with HIV in a safe and comfortable environment. We have specific groups for women as well as mixed groups. Click on each group for more details
Yes, everyone should enjoy a health sex life regardless of their HIV status. When diagnosed you may reject sex or worry about passing the virus on. Some people experience an increase in their sexual desire others feel ‘dirty’ having contracted a sexually transmitted virus. All these reactions are normal.
Once you have come to terms with your diagnosis you will probably want to have sex again!
If you are not yet ready to tell your partner about your status you need to use condoms (some men, straight and gay, prefer femidoms). This might be difficult where there is pressure from partners not to use condoms, especially if they have not previously been used, or for cultural and religious reasons.
Safer sex is essential to protect your partner, because you cannot assume that your partner is positive just because you are. It is important to practice safe sex for you as well.
Negotiating safer sex can be difficult for many women. If you don’t feel able to negotiate then it’s a good idea to seek personal advice on how to be assertive about this. If you want to talk to one of our advisors you can.
Remember HIV is not a barrier to relationships or sex and many positive people enjoy healthy sexual and intimate relationships
Practicing safe sex is important even if you are both positive. There is a chance you or your partner (positive or not) could transmit other infection such as:
Other HIV strains, perhaps drug resistant strains
Other sexually transmitted infections
It is recommended that condoms are used during vaginal and anal sex.
If you’re trying for a baby it may be possible for you to have unprotected sex. This is an option if you are on HIV medications, have an undetectable viral load and have no other sexually transmitted infections. If you’re considering this, it’s important to talk to your HIV nurse or clinician who can provide you with the right advice.
Current laws in the UK and the risk of prosecution are making it difficult for deciding whether or not to tell to be solely a personal choice. When it comes to disclosing to your partner, our advice is:
If you don’t tell
If you have unsafe sex
If you infect someone
If they decide to prosecute
You could be in difficulty. However the situation could change in the future.
When you have chosen to tell your partner, a whole set of issues will arise. He or she may want to know why you didn’t tell them earlier – in which case you may need to explain that it was important for you to become comfortable with your status and be fully informed before talking to them. You may need to discuss your partner taking an HIV test – something which they may be resistant to doing.
When you start seeing a new partner, your HIV status will inevitably be at the back of your mind. Do you tell them your status soon after you have met? Do you tell them once it seems things are becoming serious and moving to a sexual level? Or do you wait until the relationship is blossoming and you feel that a serious commitment may be on the horizon? Should you not tell them at all?
Only you can decide the best time to tell when in a relationship, but it certainly helps if your new partner has got to know you and understands you as an individual with your own qualities. This should mean that when you tell them your status, they will see you as more than a woman living with HIV. It also helps that you are comfortable with your own status. Your attitude when you tell them could influence their reaction.
If you want to talk through the pros and cons of telling your partner and how to do it, contact Positively UK.
Some people living with HIV believe that a partner with HIV is the perfect solution. Relationships should be based on more than a common HIV status, however – no relationship will ever work when it is based on one shared interest or quality alone. Many people living with HIV are in happy, loving relationships where the partner is not HIV positive.
Family members can be a great source of support. However when it comes to telling your family you have to make sure that you are ready for the reaction of your family members. Some might reject you and some might give you the support you need.
Sometimes it is better to first come to terms with your diagnosis and gather information about HIV so that when you disclose to your parents or children or friends you will be able to support them and assure them that you will be alright. Again your attitude when you tell them could also influence their reaction.
If you have children and want support with telling them, Positively UK can support you around this issue. We will also give continued support to your child after the disclosure whether you are telling your child you are positive or telling them they are positive or both.
Some treatments have side effects. This can vary from individual to individual. Side-effects can be a problem when starting a new course of treatments, but they should subside within a few weeks. You may need to make some small changes to manage the side-effects, but you should not have to completely change your lifestyle in order to take your medication
If you continue to have problems with the side-effects with your medications, speak to your doctor about how the regimen can be changed to suit you. Similarly if you are on treatment regimen that find impossible to adhere to don’t be afraid to tell your doctor. If you want to talk to someone about this you can speak to one of our team, you can also get more information from the treatment support agencies i-Base and NAM.
Since 2012 all HIV treatments are free for all regardless of where you live or your immigration status.
You may however have to pay for non-HIV medications prescribed by your GP.