Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Breastfeeding, mother's HIV status and choices

Q.22 How should mothers who do not know their HIV status feed their infants?

If for some reason a mother’s HIV status is not known, then the mother should follow the recommendations for the general population; that is, she should exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months of the baby's life and introduce adequate amounts of nutritious and safe complementary foods at 6 months of age while continuing to breastfeed up to 2 years or beyond.

All women should be encouraged to go for HIV testing and counselling, so that they know their HIV status before their baby is born. If they are HIV-infected, then they can begin to receive the care and treatment they need and be counselled to feed their infant appropriately.

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