Q and A


Detectable and breastfeeding, is this a problem?

I gave birth two weeks ago, and I started taking ARVs 5 days ago. I’m breastfeeding my baby as well as giving her formula, are they at risk?


Thanks for getting in touch.

If you’ve just started taking meds, does this mean that you were diagnosed after you gave birth?

If yes, this means that your viral load is still very likely to be detectable (unless it was unusually low beforehand).

When someone has a detectable viral load this increases the risk of transmission to a child, both at birth and from breastfeeding.

This means that your doctor should have recommended formula feeding. This means switching to only using formula milk from now on. Mixed feeding (using both breast and formula) with a detectable viral load, increases the risk of HIV transmission to your baby.

Can I also ask if your baby is taking HIV medicines? This is recommended to all babies born to HIV positive mothers. Please see here: https://i-base.info/guides/pregnancy

Please talk to your doctor and health worker about this and to the doctor looking after your baby. Without more details it is difficult to talk about the chance that your baby might also be HIV positive.


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