Women stop breastfeeding for fear of HIV

JOHANNESBURG - As the world embarks on a week-long Global AIDS campaign, researchers have shown that over 30 percent of women living in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region are no longer breastfeeding their children for fear of infecting them with the HIV/AIDS virus.

UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have confirmed that HIV infection rates prevalent in Zimbabwe and Uganda had drastically gone down due to awareness campaigns, it is a different story altogether within the refugee community living in South Africa as young mothers sacrifice their babies to HIV infection due to unprotected sex for hard cash.
Several young mothers, both HIV positive and negative, confirmed that they do not breastfeed for fear of infecting their babies although they said they were not sure about their status.
Some said they go for testing but do not obtain the results because they are afraid. Iris Mabhena (25) of Zimbabwe but living in Johannesburg said she breast-feeds her only child, Prince, who is one year three months old, arguing that breast milk was always healthy.
“If one is HIV positive, it is not allowed by doctors and nurses to breastfeed because the milk would have been contaminated with the HIV-infection. Worse still, the viral load in the blood and other body fluids of an infected mother goes straight into the innocent young baby, hence the idea to discourage breastfeeding by HIV-infected mothers,” she said.
The Southern African Aids and Information Dissemination Service (SAFAIDS) said the campaign by civil society all over the world was to demand a stronger response, more accountability and more resources in the fight against HIV and AIDS. – CAJ News

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