CDC HomeHIV/AIDS > Topics

space Pregnancy and Childbirth
arrow Prevention Challenges
arrow What CDC is Doing
arrow Developing a Prevention Program
arrow Resources
arrow Grantees Meetings
arrow One Test. Two Lives
arrow Links
arrow Bibliography
arrow What Women Can Do
PDF Icon   Link to a PDF document
Non-CDC Web Link   Link to non-governmental site and does not necessarily represent the views of the CDC
Adobe Acrobat (TM) Reader needs to be installed on your computer in order to read documents in PDF format. Download the Reader.
spacer spacer
Skip Nav spacer
Pregnancy and Childbirth
For Prevention Partners For the Public spacer

Image of a mailbox Get E-Mail Updates on HIV/AIDS and Pregnancy and Childbirth

Between 120,000 to 160,000 women in the United States are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Nearly one out of four of these women don’t know they have HIV. This puts them at high risk of passing the virus to their babies.

Women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy, while the baby is being delivered, or through breast-feeding. Mother-to-child transmission is the most common way children become infected with HIV. Nearly all AIDS cases in U.S. children are because of mother-to-child transmission.

Not all women who have HIV will give it to their children. Without treatment or breastfeeding about 25% (1 in 4) of pregnant women with HIV will transmit the virus to their babies. Fortunately, a group of drugs called antiretrovirals works well in stopping HIV transmission. If women take these drugs before and during birth, and their babies are given drugs after birth, HIV transmission is reduced from 25% to less than 2% (fewer than 2 in 100). Regularly testing pregnant women for HIV and providing antiretroviral drugs if they are infected has dramatically reduced the number of children born with HIV. In 1992, 855 children in the U.S. developed AIDS, but in 2005 only 57 children developed AIDS - a decline of 93%.

Slide 4: Estimated Number of Perinatally Acquired AIDS Cases by Year of Diagnosis, 1985–2006—United States and Dependent Areas

The estimated number of AIDS cases diagnosed among persons perinatally exposed to HIV peaked in 1992 and has decreased in recent years.

The decline in these cases is likely associated with the implementation of Public Health Service guidelines for the universal counseling and voluntary HIV testing of pregnant women and the use of antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women and newborn infants (MMWR 2002;51(No. RR-18)). 

Other contributing factors are the effective treatment of HIV infections that slow progression to AIDS and the use of prophylaxis to prevent AIDS opportunistic infections among children.

Even though more men than women have HIV, women are catching up. In fact, if new HIV infections continue at their current rate around the world, women with HIV may soon outnumber men with HIV worldwide. In the United States at the end of 2005, 27% of adults and adolescents living with HIV or AIDS were women. About 6,000-7,000 of those women with HIV give birth each year.

The good news is that women with HIV are living longer and healthier lives. With proper care and treatment, many women can continue to take care of themselves and their children.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, an estimated 8,460 children who got HIV from their mothers have been diagnosed with AIDS. Nearly 5,000 of these children have died. Fortunately, new AIDS cases in children have steadily declined -- from 855 in 1992 to 57 in 2005.

Like their mothers, children born with HIV are also benefiting from early diagnosis and better treatment. Many are living longer and healthier lives due to these life-saving drugs and other preventive measures.

Here are some more facts about HIV and AIDS in U.S. children:

Mother-to-child HIV/AIDS in 2005

  • About 142 children got HIV from their mothers.
  • Approximately 6,015 children and young adults who got HIV from their mothers were living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2005.
  • Of those living with HIV/AIDS who got HIV from their mothers, 66% were African American.
  • In 2005, an estimated 46 children and young adults who got HIV from their mothers died from AIDS.

Go to top

Last Modified: October 10, 2007
Last Reviewed: October 10, 2007
Content Source:
Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Home | Policies and Regulations | Disclaimer | e-Government | FOIA | Contact Us
spacer Safer, Healthier People
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348, 24 Hours/Every Day -
spacer The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDHHS Department of Health
and Human Services