Infant feeding for people living with HIV in high resource settings: a multi-disciplinary approach with best practices to maximise risk reduction

Lancet Reg Health Am. 2023 May 29:22:100509. doi: 10.1016/j.lana.2023.100509. eCollection 2023 Jun.


Shared decision making for infant feeding in the context of HIV in high-resourced settings is necessary to acknowledge patient autonomy, meet increasing patient requests and address the changing reality of perinatal HIV care. In low-to middle-income countries (LMIC), where the majority of individuals living with HIV reside, persons with HIV are recommended to breastfeed their infants. In the setting of maternal anti-retroviral therapy (ART) use throughout pregnancy, viral suppression and appropriate neonatal post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) use, updated information indicates that the risk of HIV transmission through breastmilk may be between 0.3 and 1%. While not endorsing or recommending breastfeeding, the United States' DHHS perinatal guidelines are similarly pivoting, stating that individuals should "receive patient-centred, evidence-based counselling on infant feeding options." Similar statements appear in the British, Canadian, Swiss, European, and Australasian perinatal guidelines. We assembled a multi-disciplinary group at our institution to develop a structured shared decision-making process and protocol for successful implementation of breastfeeding. We recommend early and frequent counselling about infant feeding options, which should include well known benefits of breastfeeding even in the context of HIV and the individual's medical and psychosocial circumstances, with respect and support for patient's autonomy in choosing their infant feeding option.

Keywords: Breastfeeding; HIV; Policy; United States; Women living with HIV.

Publication types

  • Review