Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a deadly disease which develops after a person’s immune system has been infected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). December is National AIDS Awareness Month, which gives people the opportunity to further understand the impact of the disease and its prevention.
According to AIDS.gov, since the first U.S. cases of AIDS were reported in 1981, 1.7 million people in the United States have been infected with HIV. Of those, 615,000 people have already died and approximately 1.1 million are currently living with the disease. Further statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that one in five people that are living with HIV are unaware that they are infected. These numbers are significant, compounded by the fact that without proper testing, diagnosis and preventative measures, HIV may be passed to children.
The most common way in which children contract HIV, according to AIDS.gov, is perinatal or vertical transmission, also referred to as mother-to-child transmission. This may occur during pregnancy, during vaginal childbirth, or by drinking infected breast milk.
There are fortunately treatments available to help protect newborns from becoming infected with HIV, such as antiretroviral drug therapy during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. However, if HIV is not diagnosed, these measures won’t be taken, increasing the likelihood that the child will be born with, or contract, HIV from his or her mother.
It is the responsibility of healthcare providers to perform or recommend the performance of prenatal tests to determine the proper course of treatment for the prevention of HIV transmission.
If your child was born HIV positive, contact the experienced New Jersey birth injury lawyers at Blume Forte at (973) 635-5400 to learn more about your legal rights and options.