ABM Responds to The New York Times’ “AIDS-Free Generation”
To the Editor:
RE: “Clinton Aims for ‘AIDS-Free Generation’”, The New York Times, November 8, 2011
We applaud Secretary Clinton’s lofty vision of an AIDS-free generation. Halting vertical transmission will eliminate nearly all new childhood infections, approximately 370,000 in 2009. She hopes mothers won’t “infect their babies at birth or through breastfeeding” by 2015.
We’re concerned that readers may misinterpret the reports of her statement to suggest HIV-positive mothers should not breastfeed. On the contrary, the World Health Organization’s recommendations for infant feeding emphasize breastfeeding’s role as a pillar of child health, particularly in resource-poor regions where formula feeding lessens HIV-free survival. Making breastfeeding safer by providing antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to the mother and infant, akin to preventive regimens used during pregnancy and childbirth, optimizes survival while minimizing HIV-transmission. Thus, supporting mothers to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months followed by continued breastfeeding until a year while providing ARVs is the wisest use of precious PEPFAR funds – and goes a long way towards fulfilling Secretary Clinton’s vision for an “Aids-free generation” and healthy babies worldwide.
Caroline Chantry MD
Arthur I Eidelman MD, President,
Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
This letter was submitted to the editor of The New York Times