According to health care specialist, Asabe Gomwalk, HIV positive mothers can breastfeed exclusively without fear of transmitting the virus to the child.
Gomwalk said that mothers are to breastfeed exclusively for six months, but some circumstances could raise some uncertainty in mothers, one of these instances is when the mother is HIV positive.
She explained that 40 per cent of HIV positive mothers could transmit through child delivery or breastfeeding if not given anything to prevent it and science has proven that retroviral drugs are the best.
She noted when a pregnant woman is tested positive and is placed on highly active antiretroviral drugs, the transmission rates fall drastically and is reduced to as low as one per cent rate.
With adherent counselling, the mother will know how to take the drugs, and when she adheres well, there is no fear, the child can breastfeed.
From delivery, the child is placed on prophylaxis antiretroviral for six weeks.
“There are situations, where the mother might not have started the drugs early, she might have begun during the labour, if the child is on prophylaxis, and it will be longer than six weeks.
“After this, if both mother and baby are on drugs, then we have no problem in exclusive breastfeeding. She breastfeeds exclusively for the first six months and continues breastfeeding with some complementary feeds.” She said.
She explained that the first milk called cloistral is essential for the child. The foundation of nutrition in a child is the cloistral milk, and it contains a lot of antibodies, vitamins.
She stressed that the benefit of breastfeeding, stating that the mother has better healing of post-delivery and the baby is protected from illnesses such as pneumonia and sudden infant death.
Gomwalk stated that breastfeeding helps in developing a nation because it helps in growing healthy citizens that will drive the economy, agriculture and other sectors of the country.
She urged mothers to breast exclusively for six months as it is cheaper than other supplementary feeds, and it serves as a family planning method.
In the embedded video, the benefit of exclusive breastfeeding to both mother and child is discussed.