The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women
Michelle Lopez Alora Gale Precious Jackson Nina Martinez Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga Loreen Willenberg  
Michelle Alora Precious Nina Gracia Loreen  
International News

Women With HIV Who Breastfeed Exclusively Longer Than Four Months Have Lower Risk of Transmitting Virus to Infants, Study Shows

April 18, 2013

"The amount of HIV in an infected mother's breast milk spikes when weaning begins, according to a study published [Wednesday] in Science Translational Medicine," Nature reports. "The findings are likely to add urgency to efforts to ensure that infected mothers without access to formula take antiretroviral drugs throughout and beyond the time that they wean their infants," the journal writes (Wadman, 4/17). "To test whether breastfeeding routines affect the levels of HIV in breast milk, the researchers tested nearly 1,000 women and their infants in Lusaka, Zambia, over 24 months," the Los Angeles Times' "Science Now" blog writes, adding, "The women were divided into two groups -- one that weaned their babies abruptly after four months, and one in which the women continued to breastfeed as long as they chose." According to the blog, "HIV-infected mothers who breastfed exclusively longer than the first four months after birth had less risk of transmitting the virus to their babies through their milk, researchers said" (MacVean, 4/17).

"The milk from women who ... stopped breastfeeding abruptly contained markedly higher levels of HIV than did milk from the women who continued to breastfeed exclusively," Nature notes. "The current practice of giving mothers one to two weeks of antiretroviral therapy after weaning may not be enough, the authors say, given that weaning is a stop-and-start, often protracted, process in real life," according to the magazine (4/17). "Our results have profound implications for prevention of mother-to child HIV transmission programs in settings where breastfeeding is necessary to protect infant and maternal health," the researchers wrote, GlobalPost notes (Peterson, 4/17). "WHO guidelines suggest that where HIV treatments are used, mothers should breastfeed their infants to at least 12 months," Bloomberg Businessweek writes, adding, "And if antiretroviral drugs are unavailable, women can still breastfeed for at least the first six months" (Ostrow, 4/17).

Back to other news for April 2013

This information was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

More From This Resource Center

Newly Diagnosed? Words of Encouragement from HIV-Positive Women

What Every HIV-Positive Woman Should Know About GYN Care and Prevention

This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
See Also
Breastfeeding & HIV/AIDS

No comments have been made.

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:

Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:

The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our advertising policy.

See Also
Newly Diagnosed? Words of Encouragement from HIV-Positive Women
What Did You Expect While You Were Expecting?
HIV Tools You Can Use