HIV is known to pass from a mother to her baby through breastmilk. The baby is at risk of getting HIV for as long as the mother continues to breastfeed. This risk is higher if the mother starts giving her baby other foods (including formula) while breastfeeding. This is known as mixed feeding.
In Jamaica, the policy is that HIV positive women should not breastfeed because this offers the family the best chance of having an HIV negative baby. To assist HIV positive women and their families in their decision not to breastfeed, formula is provided for the first 12 months of life. Talk with your doctor before being discharged about how to access formula for your baby.
If a woman chooses to breastfeed, she should remain on medication (HAART) to prevent the baby from getting HIV. The baby also gets medication to prevent HIV. For HIV positive mothers who choose to breast feed, ensure that you receive medication for yourself and your baby. It is also important that you give your baby only breastmilk. If any other foods are commenced (including formula), breastfeeding should be discontinued.
Parents to be should talk with their health care provider about breast vs formula feeding during pregnancy.