World Health Organization announces new guidelines on HIV and infant feeding

Dear Colleagues,

On Monday, November 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced new guidelines on infant feeding within the context of HIV. The updated guidelines reflect significant evidence regarding HIV and infant feeding that has accumulated since WHO last revised the guidelines in 2006.

Most significantly, new research shows that antiretroviral (ARV) interventions for either HIV-infected mothers or HIV-exposed infants can significantly reduce the risk of postnatal transmission of HIV through breastfeeding. This has major implications for how women living with HIV might choose to feed their infants, and how health workers should counsel mothers when making these choices.

The new recommendations call for:

  • Earlier initiation of antiretroviral therapy for adults and adolescents;
  • The delivery of more patient-friendly ARVs;
  • Prolonged use of ARVs to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; and
  • Recommendation that HIV-positive mothers or their infants take ARVs while breastfeeding to prevent transmission (this is the first time WHO has made this recommendation).

Over the coming months, look for updates from the IYCN Project on how the latest research and the new WHO guidelines will impact programs. 

Download the new WHO recommendations on the IYCN website.

Learn more about IYCN’s work to improve infant feeding in the context of HIV.

Read the inspiring story of Patricia Nawa, a mother from Zambia who used good infant feeding practices to protect her baby from HIV.

Visit the WHO website to learn more about the new guidelines.