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 AND 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?

292 comments

  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Pamela,

    It’s good to hear that your babies first test was negative, this is a good sign. It’s also good to hear that your viral load is undetectable.

    With regards to infant feeding, feeding guidelines vary depending on where it is that someone lives. In the UK women who are positive are advised not to breastfeed. If however you live in a country in Sub Saharan Africa, it’s likely that breastfeeding will be advised.

    If you want to ensure that there’s no risk, formal is the best option. However if you do want to go back to breastfeeding, you’ll need to stick this option, it’s important that you don’t keep changing.

  2. Pamela

    Hi I’ve got a 28 days born and im HIV+he tested negetive and my viral load is undetectable now i breastfed him for 23 days and i gave him formula now i regret my actions can i go back to breast feed ?i dont want to risk the life of my boy ,please help

  3. Simon Collins

    Hi Noluthando, congratulations on your new baby. The nevirapine is an extra safety medicine to protect your baby. Your baby is not HIV positive so the protection is important.

  4. Noluthando

    I am hiv positive and when igive birth my newborn baby given nevirapine does that mean she’s affected or it’s for protect her becouse I am breastfeeding

  5. Simon Collins

    Hi Betty, please ask your doctor, nurse or clinic to explain these results. For eample, if the test they used was an antibody tesr, then most babies are bositive. This is because babies have their mother’s anitbodies for the first 2 years. After this, most babies test negative. Viral load test are different, but you didn’t say which test was used.

    Without more information it is not possible to say whther you baby will be positive of negative. Nevirapine is usually given to protect the baby from HIV. This means that it sounds like your baby does not have HIV – but please check.

  6. Betty

    Hi, I just gave birth 3 days ago, my baby tested positive and I was given Nevirapine and told to breast feed. Does it mean my child is hiv positive?

  7. Simon Collins

    Hi Queen, congratulations on your new baby and for being so careful with treatment. Switching to formula milk will be okay, but please talk to your doctor or clinic first as they know about your personal situation and they can help.

  8. Queen

    I am hiv positive is been 7 years I am on arv and I am breastfeeding my baby is on nevirapine suspension.I want to give her formula when she is 6 weeks is it healthy cause I am going back to work

  9. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Precious,

    Breastfeeding guidelines vary depending on where it is that someone lives. In the UK were i-base are based, breastfeeding isn’t advised. However if you live in a country in Sub Saharan Africa, it’s often recommended. To know for sure you’ll need to talk to your doctor.

  10. Precious

    Good day

    I’m pregnant and I’ve been diagnosed with HIV 12 years ago and I’ve been on ARVs ever since I found out about my status. I want to breastfeed is it possible that I can transmit to my child?

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