Most HIV-Positive Ugandan Mothers Prefer to Breastfeed Than Use Formula
Most HIV-positive Ugandan mothers would rather breastfeed their infants than use free infant formula, "despite knowing the ris[k]" of HIV transmission through breastfeeding, according to an article published in the Aug. 25 issue of the Lancet. Francis Mmiro, chair of the technical committee for the prevention of vertical HIV transmission in Uganda, said that 61% of the HIV-positive mothers who attended antenatal clinics at the National Referral Hospital in Uganda "opted for breastfeeding," even though doctors have told the women that HIV can be transmitted through breastfeeding. Saul Onyango, the medical officer in charge of prevention of vertical transmission in the country, added that in some parts of Uganda, up to 80% of HIV-positive women choose to breastfeed. Onyango said that the women's decision to breastfeed is "understandable" because many women in the country lack the necessary supplies to prepare infant formula. Milly Katana, a member of the National Guidance and Empowerment Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS, added that Ugandan women are "generally expected" to breastfeed their infants and may fear the "social stigma" that comes with choosing not to do so. Katana added that some women "hope" that they will not pass HIV to their children through breastfeeding. Mmiro said that HIV-positive women who choose to breastfeed are advised by physicians to do so for three to six months and then alternate between formula and breastfeeding (Wendo, Lancet, 8/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.