HIV can be transmitted through breast milk and increase the risk of perinatal HIV infection.

Maternal ART can significantly reduce the risk of transmission through breast milk, but it does not exclude the risk of infection. In resource-limited locations, such as South Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) proposes that mothers living with HIV should breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and continue breastfeeding for at least twelve months, including supplemental foods from the second half.

The mother’s health should be maintained with ART (Antiretroviral Treatment) adherence to decrease the risk of transmission through breastfeeding, and in doing so, support the mother’s health.

An HIV-positive mother can breastfeed and bottle feed simultaneously under supervision by their healthcare workers. The healthcare worker will reassure you that ART reduces the risk of postnatal HIV transmission even when the baby is on mixed feeding.

Mixed feeding may affect a good supply of breast milk. It is important to discuss options when considering supplementing with formula with your clinic, health nurse, lactation consultant or Doctor.

I was fortunate enough to have had both my children well before being diagnosed HIV positive. My personal choice at the time was to breastfeed. I did for thirteen and eighteen months, respectively.


  • It comprises the correct percentage of nutrients your baby needs, including protein, carbohydrates, fat, and calcium.
  • It offers natural antibodies that help your baby fight illnesses.
  • It may increase your child’s intelligence. 
  • It is always available and is free.


  • It is convenient.
  • It is flexible.
  • Scheduling feedings may be easier.
  • You do not have to worry about what you eat. At times, breastfeeding mothers need to avoid certain foods.

Ultimately it is the mother’s choice and preference as there are benefits to both options. You decide what will work best for you with the guidance of your healthcare worker.

For more on HIV breastfeeding: HIV/AIDS: Infant feeding and nutrition (

A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference.

You can get coverage of up to 1 million rands for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million if you are living with HIV. SMS LIVING to 33857 to find out more.

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