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HIV and infant feeding: Guidance from the UK Chief Medical Officers' Expert Advisory Group on AIDS

Following a review of the research evidence, this updated guidance reaffirms existing advice. Directed to health professionals who advise HIV-infected pregnant women and new mothers, it recommends avoidance of breastfeeding as part of a programme of interventions to reduce the risk of mother to child HIV transmission.


This guidance aims to help health care professionals provide the necessary information, advice and support to women who are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to help them make personal, well-informed decisions about infant feeding. It is not intended to apply to the situation in less developed countries, where the risks associated with infant formula milk feeding are much higher.Breastfeeding, in particular exclusive breastfeeding, is the ideal way to feed infants and should be protected, promoted and supported. Its benefits go beyond sound nutrition in that it protects against common childhood infections. However, as it is one of the routes for mother-to-child HIV transmission, HIV-infected women in this country need to consider carefully the information about relative risks and benefits to their babies of breastfeeding, compared with alternatives. HIV-infected women will only be in a position to make informed decisions about the measures known to protect their babies from HIV infection, including avoidance of breastfeeding, if they are aware of their infection status. This highlights the importance of offering and recommending an HIV test to all pregnant women as a routine part of their antenatal care and providing adequate information about HIV during pregnancy, covering the possible implications for their babies and themselves.

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