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Breastfeeding and HIV

HIV or human immunodeficiency virus is transmitted through certain bodily fluids that include breast milk. This mother-to-child transmission is considered risky, which puts the child in a dangerous state, add to that the possible health complications that the child may acquire. Breast milk is a good agent for the virus (HIV) to infect others and spread vigorously. This explains why it is not safe for a mother infected with HIV to breastfeed her infant.

Since infants are properly nurtured through breastfeeding, there are other ways for them to get the quality care they deserve. Mothers who have access to formula and clean, boiled water should choose this option. If this alternative isn’t available, mothers will be advised to breastfeed, provided that both she and her baby are taking antiretroviral therapy (ART).

For mothers with HIV who do breastfeeding, taking the treatment is strictly required. She must also breastfeed exclusively for only 6 months. Additionally, taking extra good care of her infant aside from following the ART program, such as providing the baby with the right food, will help in the entire treatment process.

Note that no two people are the same. This means that an infected mother may be in a situation that is totally different from the other infected mothers. In line with this, receiving medical advice and assistance from a healthcare professional is the best way to stop the virus from ultimately affecting the mother and the child.

As this case is similar to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), avoiding breastfeeding for the child’s sake is the best thing to do. In addition to other forms of mother-to-child transmission, the following also poses a greater risk to infants and children.

  • Pregnancy – pregnant women who are HIV positive could pass the infection to their baby, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
  • Childbirth – HIV infection is also possible during labour or delivery, but treatment is available to lower the viral load of an infected mother and, as a result, may have a lower risk of passing the virus to the infant.

Following the right treatment lowers the risk of babies or infants acquiring the human immunodeficiency virus. But to entirely lessen the effect of the infection, it is highly recommended for mothers to completely avoid breastfeeding their infants, regardless of ART and other treatment possible.

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