Q and A

Question

I’m detectable and breastfeeding, is there a risk?

If my viral load is detectable and I’m breastfeeding is my baby at risk? My baby is on medication.

Answer

Thanks for getting in touch.

Guidelines relating to breastfeeding and HIV positive mothers vary depending on where a woman lives globally. In the UK breastfeeding isn’t advised and this is even when someone has an undetectable viral load.

If a woman who is positive is breastfeeding when their viral load is detectable, then yes there is a risk of transmission. This is even if the baby is on medication. As to the level of risk its not possible to say. If in doubt the best and safest option is to give a baby formula.

13 comments

  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Enhle,

    If your child hasn’t already had a HIV test, you need to get her tested. This is important due to the fact that you were feeding her with a detectable viral load. If your doctor told you to stop breastfeeding this is something that they should have talked to you about.

    Now you’ve mentioned that you have a detectable viral load, are you taking medication? If you are how long have you been on it for?

  2. Enhle

    Hi I’m an hlv mother my viral load is 6650 and i was brestfeeding for about 7 weeks and my doctor advised me to stop breastfeeding now I’m giving my baby formula milk (S26) she’s 12 weeks now I’m worried what are the chances of mother to child transmission

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Jane,

    Please don’t be worried, but it’s important to see your doctor about symptoms of mastitis as soon as you can.

    It’s great that you’re undetectable, and also if you’re breastfeeding only, then you’re doing all you can to protect your baby from HIV.

    But mastitis can increase risk of HIV to your baby. Please see your doctor quickly, and talk about the best way to feed your baby now.

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