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HIV by breast feeding
Sep 22, 2009

I am in India. My wife was diagnosed HIV in 2008 with CD4 114. Only possible cause is blood transfusion she had in 1989 just after birth of my son.recently my son is also diagnosed HIV with CD4 275. My daughter who was born in 1994 is negative.As blood transf. took place after birth my son could have been infected by breast feeding.Whether infection by breast feeding is possible when wife was just infected ? can it be false positive test ? I have got CD 4 and viral load for both. Whether son should start medicine at this stage ? what should I do to prevent infection in my daughter and other family members?

Response from Dr. McGowan

I am sorry to hear about how HIV has impacted your family.

It is likely that your son was infected through breast feeding. About 14-17% of HIV transmissions from mother to child happen that way and, if your wife had just become infected at that time , her chances of spreading the virus in the breastmilk would be higher. I hope she has been able to be treated and has increased her CD4 count since her diagnosis.

According to WHO treatment guidelines which are followed in India, your son, at age 10, would be treated if he had any symptoms from being HIV infected or if his CD4 count were below 200. If treatment is available, then he would benefit from treatment now since his CD4 count is below 350 which is the standard used in the US and Europe.

HIV is not spread through usual household contact so your daughter should not be at increased risk. If your son or wife had a cut with bleeding, any spilled blood should be wiped up with bleach which will kill the virus.

Hoping your family remains healthy. Joe



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