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Health & Pregnancy

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Understanding STDs in Pregnancy -- Treatment

What Are the Treatments?


HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is spread through sexual fluids, or through sharing needles with, or exposure to blood from, an infected person. A baby can contract it from the mother before or during birth, or through breast milk.

It's recommended that all pregnant women — not just those at risk — be screened for HIV. If you are HIV-positive, you can significantly reduce the potential for transmission to the baby by taking the right medicines. But to get treatment and prevent infection, you need to know that you are infected. If your doctor or midwife hasn't offered you HIV testing, ask for it.


Chlamydia is caused by bacteria spread through sexual contact with an infected partner. In pregnant women, it's routinely tested for by checking the vaginal and cervical secretions and is easily treated with antibiotics such as erythromycin, amoxicillin or azithromycin. Even if you have been treated, you should be retested within three months to ensure the infection is truly gone, even if your partner has been treated. During pregnancy you should not use the antibiotic doxycycline because it can discolor your baby's teeth. Ointment is now routinely put in the eyes of newborns to prevent conjunctivitis due to a mother’s chlamydia infection, which can lead to blindness if not treated.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes virus. It is transmitted through sexual contact with someone in whom the virus is active. There is no cure for genital herpes, but it can be managed. If tests show the virus to be active or you have a herpes genital lesion close to your delivery date, your doctor may recommend having a cesarean section instead of a vaginal birth. This will cut down the chance of the baby contracting the virus by contact with lesions in the birth canal. Acyclovir, valacyclovir and famciclovir are all considered safe to take in pregnancy and there are no studies that show an increase in birth defects among women that have taken these drugs. It appears that they are safe and may be prescribed if medically indicated by your doctor. Daily suppressive treatment after 36 weeks may be prescribed by your doctor to reduce shedding of the virus prior to delivery  and hopefully prevent the need for a C-section delivery from a herpes outbreak.

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