National
Breastfeeding lowers HIV transmission — study
Publish Date: May 05, 2013
Breastfeeding lowers HIV transmission — study
  • mail
  • img
newvision

By Taddeo Bwambale and Agencies

Mothers living with HIV, who breastfeed exclusively for longer than the fi rst four months, lower the risk of transmitting the virus to their babies.

A study published, recently, in the Science Translational Medicine shows that mothers who stop breastfeeding abruptly have higher levels of HIV than those who continue breastfeeding.

The research dispels the argument that weaning children from breast milk early, lowers risks of passing on HIV.

The study examined the prevalence of the HIV-1 strain among 958 women and their infants in Lusaka, Zambia, over a 24-month period.

The women were randomly asked to wean abruptly at four months, or to continue breastfeeding for a duration of their choice.

After six weeks, researchers discovered a higher viral load in breast milk of mothers, who had stopped breastfeeding, compared to those who chose to continue breastfeeding.

The study also found that those who breastfed their infants exclusively had a signifi cantly lower viral load, compared to those who also fed their babies on other foods.

“Higher milk viral concentrations after stopping breastfeeding were found to be higher than expected rates of late postnatal HIV transmission in those who weaned early,” the study says.

The study suggests frequency of breastfeeding infl uenced the level of HIV in breast milk.

The study encourages the continuation of antiretroviral treatment for mothers even after weaning their children from breast milk. Option B Plus
Last year, the Government adopted a model dubbed Option B Plus, in which all HIVpositive pregnant women are enrolled on anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, irrespective of their CD4 count.

However, Dr. Alex Coutinho, one of the pioneer HIV/AIDS specialists and head of the infectious disease institute (IDI), says Option B Plus makes breastfeeding safer by reducing the viral load to an uninfective level.

Before 2006, the World Health Organisation recommended that only women with a low CD4 count should receive ARVs. The guidelines encouraged HIV-positive mothers to exclusively breastfeed for six months and then rapidly wean to avoid transmitting HIV to their infant.

Dr. Apuuli Kihumuro, the director-general of the Uganda AIDS Commission, adds:

“The study is overtaken by events. When we adopted the Option B Plus, our target was to ensure that all breastfeeding mothers were enrolled on treatment.”

“As long as all pregnant mothers are tested for HIV and those who are infected get started on treatment right away, the chances of transmitting the disease are signifi cantly reduced.”

Under the Option B Plus, however, both the breastfeeding mother and the baby are given ARVs to prevent the possibility of infection.

Dr. Lydia Mungherera, a member of Uganda’s Option B Plus taskforce, declined to comment on the study.

She, however, notes that the best way to reduce chances of mother-to-child transmission was by ensuring that all expectant mothers who test HIV-positive are put on ARVs. Mungherera also observed the need to address the underlying issues affecting HIV-positive mothers, such as stigma, disclosure and treatment care. 1.5 million pregnancies

Every year, at least 1.5 million women living with HIV become pregnant globally, according to the World Health Organisation.

Studies show that without taking ARVs, babies stand a 15% to 45% chance of contracting HIV if their mothers are infected, but taking ARVs reduces transmission to below 5%.

 

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
First Lady Janet tips on Internet use
The First Lady and Minister for Karamoja Affairs Janet Museveni asks UCC to launch a national awareness campaign on cyber security to educate children and parents on child online protection....
Museveni gives sh30m to Kikosi Maalum veterans
The Kikosi Maalum veterans, are a special group of ex-servicemen who participated in the fight that led to the overthrow of Idi Amin government....
Tough times as drought hits Kasese farmers
Pastoralists in Kasese district are crying foul after the area was hit by a severe drought, which has left pasture and seasonal rivers dry....
MP Tinkasiimire gets back bride price
The father of Lynn Mbabazi who was married to Buyaga West MP Barnabas Tinkasiimire, has returned the bride price to the legislator’s family after a collapsed marriage....
Police arrests five over Kampala bank robbery
Police in Kampala have arrested five people in connection with the robbery of a bank, one month after a countrywide hunt by the Police Flying Squad....
Gov’t needs sh2.2trillion for HIV/Aids control by 2016
Government needs about sh2.2trillion for HIV/Aids response by the year 2016, money that is required to procure antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, HIV test kits and other related supplies....
Do you agree with the ban on the export of maids?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter