Breastfeeding, mother's HIV status and choices
Q.20 What are the differences between infant feeding recommendations for HIV-infected mothers versus HIV-uninfected mothers?
Under the new guidelines, countries may choose to recommend breastfeeding to all mothers, regardless of whether or not they are HIV-infected. In this case, all mothers are encouraged to exclusively breastfeed during the first 6 months of their baby’s life. If countries recommend breastfeeding to HIV-infected mothers then there are two differences from the recommendations for HIV-uninfected mothers.
- An HIV-infected mother or her baby should receive an ARV intervention to prevent HIV transmission through breastfeeding.
- How long to continue breastfeeding after 6 months, while giving adequate amounts of nutritious and safe complementary foods. Women in the general population are recommended to continue breastfeeding their infants up to 2 years of age or beyond. HIV-infected women are recommended to breastfeed for at least 12 months and to then assess whether an alternate, adequate diet without breast milk can be safely provided. The shortened period for HIV-infected mothers is based on balancing the risk to the infant of not breastfeeding with the feasibility and likely adherence to ARVs over a longer time period.