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Dilemma of choice between breastfeeding and replacement feeding among HIV positive mothers in Tanzania

LM Mnongya


Breast milk provides all the nutrients needed during the first few months of life, and also contains agents that help protect against common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea and respiratory infections. The objective of the study is to express challenges facing HIV positive mothers in choosing between replacement feeding and breast-feeding in Tanzania from 1999-2011. Breastfeeding is part of the fundamental human rights; the right to food and to health. In HIV+ mothers, if no antiretroviral drugs are being taken, breastfeeding for two or more years can double the risk of the baby becoming infected to around 40 %. But if the mother opts to breast-feed, she and her child must adhere 100% to ARV’s throughout the
breastfeeding time. But percentage of HIV+ breastfeeding mothers accessing ARV’s in developing countries is only 59%. Replacement feeding is the only 100% effective way to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV after birth, but the risk of infant mortality from other illnesses such as diarrhoea must be taken into account. It was also advised that replacement feeding could take place where it was “acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe.” Breastfeeding should be promoted as ideal for most babies in low and middle income countries. HIV positive mothers should be supported not only by their husbands and health personnel but also by the community in general to choose between breastfeeding and replacement feeding in order to ensure growth of the infant and to support the mother physically and mentally to attain that goal.

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eISSN: 0856-7212
print ISSN: 0856-7212