Antiretroviral drugs and breastfeeding
Q.6 Are antiretroviral drugs still effective as prophylaxis if the mother does not exclusively breastfeed?
The research does not give precise information on this question, but ARVs are likely to offer protection, even if the mother does not exclusively breastfeed.
The research studies all state that they promoted and supported mothers to exclusively breastfeed. In most cases the research reports do not break the results down according to whether the mothers did in fact exclusively breastfeed for 6 months, or whether they added other foods to their infants’ diets. However, looking across many studies where mothers took either lifelong antiretroviral treatment (ART) or ARVs as prophylaxis, the risk of breastfeeding transmission was still very low. This suggests that even if mothers do not exclusively breastfeed, ARVs still provide infants with very significant protection from HIV transmission through breastfeeding.