Recently published recommendations for the prevention of pediatric HIV infection say people with HIV should be counseled about infant feeding prior to conception or as early as possible in pregnancy.
The recommendations address replacement feeding and the low risk for HIV transmission through breastfeeding when a person has achieved sustained viral suppression on ART.
Why is it important to counsel pregnant and postpartum women with HIV about infant feeding?
Levison: It is important because up until now, we have been very negative about the idea of breastfeeding among people with HIV in high-resource countries, even though, in most of the world, exclusive breastfeeding is what's recommended. We have finally listened to the community.
There are many reasons why people are choosing to breastfeed and/or wanting to at least consider that option. This time we considered the health benefits of breastfeeding both for the infant and for the breastfeeding parents. For example, breastfed infants have a lower risk of developing asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, lower respiratory disease, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome and other infections. The breastfeeding parent has a decreased risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes and breast and ovarian cancer.