When an expectant mother with HIV doesn't seek treatment during pregnancy or is unaware that she even has the virus, the chances of transmitting HIV to her child run as high as 50%, according to Alice Stek, MD, director of perinatal services at the Maternal-Child Adolescent HIV Program at the Los Angeles County'University of Southern California Medical Center. But even with all of the care in the world, a woman with HIV still runs a very small risk of transmitting the virus to her child during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, or breast-feeding. Transmission isn't the end of the world, though. Stek recommends that parents immediately find a pediatrician who specializes in treating children with HIV or AIDS. This is key because it's crucial to make sure the dosage of HIV meds is right for children's developing bodies.
From there, the doctor will be able to provide a schedule of age-appropriate vaccines, such as for mumps and chickenpox, adjusted from the standard schedule to accommodate an HIV-positive child's more fragile immune system.
Children with HIV require different forms of medication as well. Easily consumed powders and syrups are administered to children in place of the tough-to-swallow pills meant for adults. Breaking down larger pills designed for adults can lead to incorrect dosage and is therefore recommended only as a last resort.