Q and A

Question

My baby is on nevirapine and I’m breastfeeding, is my baby positive?

Answer

Hi there,

Firstly, congratulations on having your baby.

It is normal for your baby to be given a short course (4 weeks) of HIV treatment (such as nevirapine) when born. This doesn’t mean your baby is HIV positive. This will be checked later through testing. A different type of testing is also used on babies as the normal antibody test used in adults will show the baby as positive.

Our guide on pregnancy has lots more information

https://i-base.info/guides/pregnancy

Do you mind me asking if you are taking HIV treatment for your health?

In the UK, the BHIVA (British HIV Association) guidelines recommend bottle feeding.

This is because in countries where mothers can have access to to formula milk AND clean water ANDĀ bottle sterilising equipment, the risk of transmitting HIV to the baby through bottle feeding is zero. There are different recommendations for other countries though and many women breastfeed. I am not sure about the recommendations in Zambia.

This means that you are doing the best that you can to protect your baby.

However, being positive and looking after a new born baby can be hard and many people need help. Do you have much support around you to help or are you touch with good care from your doctor?

226 comments

  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Thandi,

    If your baby is constipated please discuss this with a healthcare professional. If you’re breastfeeding please also see here: https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-challenges/constipation/#:~:text=What%20causes%20constipation%3F,cope%20with%20digesting%20new%20things.

  2. Thandi

    My baby he’s taking nevarapin an he’s constipation what should I do to relieve constipation

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Gloria,

    Congratulations on the birth of your child.

    Feeding guidelines for babies vary depending on where it is that someone lives. In the UK (where i-base are based) babies born to positive mothers are given formula, as these are the guidelines. With formula there’s no risk. However, if you want to try breastfeeding you’ll need to discuss this with your babies doctor. You’re viral load will need to be undetectable.

  4. Gloria

    Good evening,

    I am HIV positive, I just gave birth 2 days ago and been giving my child formula but I am thinking to change and breastfeed. Is it still ok if I do so. My child is taking nevarapine from birth same time everyday?

    Regards,

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Tendai.

    Are you saying that you want to mix your breast milk and ilvitrim together and then give your baby a bottle? If you are, I wouldn’t recommended this as the baby might not finish their bottle. However, as ilvitrim ins’t an ARV, this might be OK. If you can please ask your health care provider.

  6. Tendai

    Hie lam HIV + l want to ask that is there aproblem if l mix my breast milk with ilvitrim suspension and give to the baby

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Malope,

    If your baby is 21 months old and all their tests have been negative, then this means that they are negative. Please see here for more info: https://i-base.info/guides/pregnancy/hiv-negative
    As your baby is older than 1 year, there’s no need to give them formula, they can have cows milk (this is unless they’re allergic to cows milk).

    If your child has any health issues, you need to discuss these with a doctor.

  8. Malope

    I have a 21 months old boy, he is struggling with geographic toungue, they come and go and normally lasts few days. The doctor advised that formula is the course so she suggested fresh milk although he does not like salty foods. He tested negative all through the tests. I breastfed him for 2 months and my mom added formula as i got a new job immediately after birth. After 2 months i was told to wait 10 weeks before they run another tests and they came back negative. Should I worry about his situation.

  9. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Ntokozo,

    It’s good to hear that your HIV is under control and that both you and your baby are on medication.
    With regards to mixed feeding, babies born to positive mothers need to be given either formula or breast milk, not both. If you don’t have enough milk, your baby will need to be given formula only.

  10. Ntokozo

    Hi, I’m HIV positive and my baby is 8 weeks and tested negative after birth. I breastfed for about 5 weeks without giving anything else and then got a job. On the 6th week I started working and would pump breastmilk but I found that my mom bought some formula just in case it runs out. The challenge is that my breastmilk does run out and find them giving the baby formula like one bottle when it runs out. My viral load was 40 ml when I gave birth and still taking ARVs and my baby is on nevirapine and I give her everyday. I’m really worried as she is due for testing at 10 weeks but I have adhered to treatment for both of us. What are the risks? I wanted to breastfeed but the milk is mostly not enough and I am not sure of what to do.

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