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Can I still breastfeed even when I am HIV positive?

Most mothers learn that they are HIV positive during a routine HIV test at the antenatal check-up and because breastmilk sometimes may contain HIV, mums imagine breastfeeding is completely impossible. It’s important to understand that even though breast milk sometimes carries the HIV virus, breastfeeding protects the baby from many other diseases and is still one of the safest ways to feed the baby. However, it’s important for you to follow guidelines from a health care provider.

At any antenatal clinic, a counselor will always share the importance of exclusive breastfeeding. If you choose to breastfeed, you must always take your treatment and exclusively breastfeed which means you give breast milk only for at least 6 months.

You may also be advised to breastfeed while both you and your baby are taking antiretroviral treatment. Mixing breast milk and other foods before six months may increase your baby’s risk of HIV. For more information or advise on whether to breastfeed or not, talk to your healthcare professional