Study: Breastfeeding safer with HAART regimen

February 8, 2008

HIV-positive mothers who take antiretroviral drugs reduce the risk of passing it on to their babies via milk.

HIV-positive mothers who take antiretroviral drugs reduce the risk of passing it on to their babies via milk.

Timothy Thomas, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented research of Kenya's Kisumu Breastfeeding Study at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston.

The study followed 522 HIV-positive mothers, giving them all a highly active antriretroviral therapy of lamivudine, zidovidine, and nevirapine, with nelfinavir given to women with higher viral loads. Of the 502 babies born (all were given a dose of nevirapine as well), only 24 of them were HIV-positive by 6 months of age.

Only 12 of the infants contracted HIV during the delivery, for a low 2.4% rate more comparable to the 1% in developed countries than the double-digit numbers in some developing countries. Experts differ on whether any of the babies show resistance of the drugs from exposure via breast milk.