Breast milk pasteurisation in developed countries to reduce HIV transmission. Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

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Background. Transmission of HIV through breastfeeding is well documented. The World Health Organisation advise HIV-infected women in developed countries to use alternatives to breastfeeding together with highly active antiretroviral therapy and optimal management of delivery to prevent transmission of HIV to their infant. Case report. We present the case of an HIV-infected woman electing to exclusively breastfeed for six months and applying milk pasteurisation techniques without transmission to her infant. Two paired samples of her breast milk were tested for HIV RNA prior to and after pasteurisation. The first pair of specimens reported no change in HIV RNA copy number, the second pair of specimens reported an increase in copy number. Discussion. This technique, the evidence for HIV inactivation and the effects pasteurisation has on nutritional and immunological components of breast milk are discussed. Conclusion. In conclusion, we believe there is currently insufficient data to recommend this technique either as a safe alternative to formula feeding in resource-rich countries or as a method for providing intact immunological components of breast milk to the infant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-240
Number of pages4
JournalInfectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast milk
  • Breastfeeding
  • HIV
  • Holder technique
  • Immunological
  • Infection
  • Pasteurisation

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