Key messages and communications
Q.38 What are the key messages for communities to help them implement the new guidelines?
Communities care about the health of women and children. They should be helped to understand that these new guidelines will help to give their children a better start in life, and help HIV-infected women to stay healthy and continue to have an active family life.
With regard to feeding practices, where breastfeeding is the national recommendation for HIV-infected women, the Guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, which corresponds to feeding practices that should already be the norm for the general population.
Communities should also be alerted about the major advance that ARVs represent in terms of enabling HIV-infected mothers to breastfeed with only a small risk of transmitting HIV to their infants while providing major protection against major illnesses. They should be informed that all mothers need to be supported, especially during the first 6 months of an infant’s life, to exclusively breastfeed and to avoid giving other foods or fluids, such as formula milk or porridges, that can make young infants ill.
If formula is the nationally recommended feeding practice for HIV-infected women, then communities should be helped to understand that there have always been a few women who need to practice artificial feeding for medical reasons. HIV is one indication for this, although it is not recommended for everyone.