Should HIV positive women breast feed their babies
HIV may be transmitted from mother to infant through breast milk. However, women living in the resource poor settings in developing countries may not have access to safe, hygienic and affordable replacement feeding options. Considering the important role of breast milk in child growth and development, following recommendations have been proposed by National AIDS Control Organization (NACO). When replacement feeding is not acceptable, feasible, affordable,sustainable and safe (AFASS), exclusive breast-feeding is recommended during the first months of life. Every effort should be made to promote exclusive breast-feeding for up to four months in the case of HIV positive mothers followed by weaning, and complete stoppage of breast feeding at six months in order to restrict transmission through breast feeding. However, such mothers will be informed about the risk of transmission of HIV through breast milk and its consequences. In addition, based on the principle of informed choice, HIV infected women should be counseled about the risk of HIV transmission through breast milk and the risks and benefits of each feeding method, with specific guidance in selecting the option most likely to be suitable for their situation. In any case, mixed feeding i.e. breast-feeding along with other feeds should be strictly discouraged as it increases the risk of HIV transmission.