HIV-1 and breastfeeding: biology of transmission and advances in prevention

Clin Perinatol. 2010 Dec;37(4):807-24, ix-x. doi: 10.1016/j.clp.2010.08.001.


Breastfeeding accounts for about 40% of mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 worldwide and carries an estimated risk of transmission of 0.9% per month after the first month of breastfeeding. It is recommended that HIV-1-infected women completely avoid breastfeeding in settings where safe feeding alternatives exist. However, as replacement feeding is not safely available in many parts of the world, and because breastfeeding provides optimal nutrition and protection against other infant infections, there is intense ongoing research to make breastfeeding safe for HIV-1-infected mothers in resource-limited settings. More research is needed to determine the optimal duration of breastfeeding, optimal weaning practices, and which individual antiretroviral prophylactic regimen is best for HIV-1-infected mothers and their infants in a particular setting.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Breast Feeding / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk, Human / immunology
  • Milk, Human / virology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Primary Prevention / trends*
  • Viral Load
  • Viral Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Virus Inactivation
  • World Health Organization


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • Viral Vaccines