Feeding your baby when you’re HIV positive

If you have HIV, the Ministry of Health recommends you don’t breastfeed your children.

You have the right to be fully informed about how to feed your baby.

If you have HIV infection, we recommend that you do not breastfeed your children. In developing countries, the nutritional and health benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risk of transmitting HIV. This is not the case in New Zealand, where there are safe and effective alternatives to breastfeeding.

Research from the developing world shows that women living with HIV can reduce the risk of passing HIV to an infant through breastfeeding by following a regimen of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and exclusively breastfeeding for up to six months. However, there isn't enough research to show that this completely eliminates the risk of passing HIV on to an infant, so we recommend that women with HIV do not breastfeed.

Getting support

All parents with HIV should be offered support to make decisions around infant feeding. The support you get should be culturally appropriate, personalised to you, available anywhere in New Zealand, and offered by trained support staff. It should include education around and support for feeding options, such as formula feeding, and appropriately screened donor milk where available. You should get ongoing monitoring and follow-up, as well as access to treatments and medications for both you and your child as appropriate.

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