Breastfeeding provides the much needed nutrients to protect the baby against illness such as respiratory infection and diarrhoea. It is undoubtedly the best way to feed an infant, but unfortunately, this is not true for all the babies, especially those born to an HIV-positive woman. This is because HIV can be transmitted through breast feeding. An Infant is at greater risk of acquiring HIV through breastfeeding when fed in the absence of antiretroviral drugs. Over a year or two, it increases the chances of the baby’s infection by 40 percent.
Breastfeeding advice for HIV-positive mothers living in high-income countries
Babies that breasfeed are less likely to become ill than those who are on chemical or replacement food; but for HIV positive mothers, the situation is different. Mentioned below are some tips from National Health Agencies to the HIV positive mothers who wish to breastfeed their infant/s:
In high-income countries, women are advised to breastfeed only if they are highly informed and motivated. Furthermore, the HIV positive mother is allowed to breastfeed only under exceptional circumstances and that too after seeking expert advice from a professional.
Breastfeeding advice for HIV-positive mothers living in low and middle-income countries
Infant feeding advice for HIV-positive women living in low and middle-income countries is different from that of women living in high-income countries. Such places have little access to health services, clean water and sanitation. To help an infant survive these conditions, it is wise to breastfeed them. In such places, formula feed cannot solve the purpose. Therefore, HIV positive women are left only with one realistic solution .i.e. to breast feed their baby.
According to 2010 guidelines of the World Health Organization:
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