HIV and other infant feeding policies, programmes and practices
Q.27 How can national and district health authorities use these efforts to improve promotion and support of optimal infant and young child feeding in the general population?
Efforts to improve exclusive breastfeeding rates in HIV-infected mothers of young infants are likely to have positive impacts on infant and young child feeding in the general population. Similarly, efforts to improve infant feeding in the general population will now help HIV-infected mothers to exclusively breastfeed and reduce stigma that might be associated with the practice. Communication strategies, training of staff and community mobilization to support optimal infant feeding are important activities that can serve both populations. In settings where breastfeeding with ARVs is promoted by health services, there may be no need for separate prenatal and early postnatal group sessions for HIV-infected women, since all women will be receiving essentially the same message. Health workers will be able to spend more time dealing with particular issues that may hinder exclusive breastfeeding for individual women or issues related to adherence with ARV regimens.
Where formula feeding is recommended for HIV-Infected mothers, it will be crucial to ensure that they receive individual counselling, as set out in the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, to prevent spillover of this feeding method into the general population.