Breastfeeding Defence Toolkit

Breastfeeding Science

Scientific articles from peer-reviewed journals on the risk of HIV transmission through breastmilk

Postnatal HIV transmission in breastfed infants of HIV-infected women on ART: a systematic review and meta-analysis (2017)

A systematic review of all literature to date (2017) on mother-to-child transmission in breastfed infants whose mothers received antiretroviral therapy and support the process of updating the World Health Organization infant feeding guidelines in the context of HIV and ART, which concludes that there is evidence of substantially reduced postnatal HIV transmission risk under the cover of maternal ART.

Alternative links
Read on the JIAS website

No HIV Transmission From Virally Suppressed Mothers During Breastfeeding in Rural Tanzania (2018)

Brief report from clinical practice in Tanzania which found no HIV transmission from mothers who were retained in care and had suppressed viral load whilst breastfeeding. They conclude: “Breastfeeding signifies a very low risk when mothers adhere to ART.”

Eliminating HIV transmission through breast milk from women taking antiretroviral drugs (2021)

Ameena Goga and colleagues argue that frequent testing of maternal viral load is needed to eliminate HIV transmission through breast milk in low and middle income settings.

Women living with HIV in high-income settings and breastfeeding (2020)

A thorough review of policy guidance, science and practice in high income settings from Denmark.  It concludes that “suppressive maternal ART significantly reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of postnatal transmission of HIV through breastfeeding. However, it is important to recognize and acknowledge that some women living with HIV may wish to breastfeed their infant, in which both the healthcare providers and the women need evidence-based information about the risks and benefits to enable an informed decision.”

HIV-Infected Mothers Who Decide to Breastfeed Their Infants Under Close Supervision in Belgium: About Two Cases (2020)

A case report from Belgium in which specific guidelines were implemented in order to support two mothers’ choice to breastfeed. As a result of different prophylactic measures including antiretrovirals in mothers and infants and close follow-up, none of the infants were infected.

Alternative links
Read on the Frontiers Pediatrics site

Breastfeeding with HIV: An Evidence-Based Case for New Policy (2019)

A review of the benefits and risks of breastfeeding for mothers living with HIV, and recommendations that the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) include breastfeeding as an option for with living with on suppressive antiretroviral therapy who maintain an undetectable viral load.

Does U=U for breastfeeding mothers and infants? Breastfeeding by mothers on effective treatment for HIV infection in high-income settings (2018)

Can the campaign Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U), established for the sexual transmission of HIV, be applied to the transmission of HIV through breastfeeding? A group of global experts propose a roadmap for collaborative research to provide the missing evidence required to enable mothers who wish to breastfeed to make a fully informed choice.