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Q&A: I'm positive but not on ARVs

I am the mother of a three week old baby. I'm HIV positive but not on treatment. I breastfeed my baby they gave her a navirapine syrup. I want to know is there any chance my baby can get HIV from me?

DR NICOLA ANSWERS
Nevirapine syrup will help to protect the baby from getting HIV from breastmilk. If you are not taking any ARV’s, the baby must take nevirapine every day for the entire time that you breastfeed, and the nurse at the clinic will increase the dose as your baby grows. It is important to go to your local clinic as soon as possible, as all breastfeeding women now qualify for the 1-pill (a combination of 3 antiretroviral drugs). Please go to your local clinic as soon as possible to start this treatment. If your CD4 cell count is above 350, you will only need to continue the medication until 1 week after you stop breastfeeding completely. If your CD4 cell count is below 350, you will need to continue taking the antiretroviral medication for life. You will be able to discuss the risk (chance) of your baby getting HIV with the Health Care Worker at the clinic. Your baby must have an HIV test at 6 weeks of age, again 6 weeks after you completely stop breastfeeding, and again at 18 months of age. It is very important that you exclusively breastfeed in the first 6 months, and only introduce other foods after 6 months of age. (Exclusive means no water/tea/juice/formula milk/pap/cereal/yoghurt/cow’s milk/grope water etc.)

Tell us MAMAs - are you on ARVs?

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