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In the early 1980s it was discovered that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, could be passed through a mother’s milk to her baby.  Almost overnight in the industrialised countries, and later in the African countries most ravaged by HIV, breastfeeding became an endangered practice. But in the rush to reduce transmission of HIV, everything we already knew about breastfeeding’s life-saving effects was overlooked, with devastating consequences for mothers and babies.

In HIV and Breastfeeding – the untold story, former IBCLC Pamela Morrison, an acknowledged authority on HIV and breastfeeding, reveals how women in the world’s most poverty-stricken areas were persuaded to abandon breastfeeding as part of a short-sighted and deadly policy that led to an humanitarian disaster.

The dilemma that breastfeeding, an act of nurturing which confers food, comfort and love, could be at once life-saving yet lethal, has been called ‘the ultimate paradox’. This critical account reveals how vital breastfeeding is, even in the most difficult of circumstances, and examines the lessons that can be learned from the mistakes of the past – which is particularly relevant as we deal with the consequences for mothers and babies of another global pandemic, Covid-19.

With detailed information for HIV-positive mothers and their caregivers, and success stories from mothers themselves, this book is essential reading for anyone involved in protecting and supporting breastfeeding, or with a need for evidence-based information about breastfeeding and HIV.

Current Stock:
2022 | paperback | 320pp | 234x155mm

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HIV and Breastfeeding - The Untold Story

Jackie Shakespeare on 19th Feb 2022

Pamela Morrison is a well respected world expert in the field of lactation and lactation support. This book is a compelling work, tracing the story of HIV-AIDS and the impact of feeding restrictions placed on mothers and babies. At the start of the HIV epidemic in Africa, the major concern was rightly to ensure the health and survival of the greatest number of babies, by reducing mother to child transmission. Sadly this focus seems to have been lost by the policy makers. The decision to enforce formula rather than breast feeding in 100% of babies born in an under-privileged environment at higher risk for morbidity and mortality, in an attempt to prevent a small percentage of them acquiring HIV from breastmilk, was questionable. There then seem to have been little or no attempt to monitor the health outcomes of those babies denied breastfeeding, despite the alarmingly high death rate of formula-fed babies. Systematic evaluations of the HIV and infant feeding programmes were rare, with most babies lost to follow up review soon after birth. Few ethical questions seem to have been asked about the sustainability and safety of formula feeding in resource-poor settings, or the wisdom of reducing breastfeeding rates in Africa where it was almost universally practiced and was essential for child survival. It was not until the devastating Botswana floods in 2006 that much more information was made available testifying to the risks of not breastfeeding, with multiple research studies showing the differences in health outcomes between replacement (formula) feeding and breastfeeding. The tide was slowly turning, with anti-retroviral treatment, close monitoring and care, many mothers could once more hope to breastfeed their infants. With meticulous attention to detail. Pamela Morrison traces the events over 25 years from the beginning of the HIV AIDS epidemic, to the present day. This is a wonderful book, that reinforces what the lactation community knew all along. Sometimes when politics and policy decision get in the way however, disaster can strike and the most vulnerable can suffer, in particular if there is no recording of the outcome of those actions. As we entered the Covid-19 pandemic, breastfeeding once again came under threat - was it "safe" for a Covid positive mother to breastfeed or not? This book therefore will remain hugely relevant.

HIV and Breastfeeding

Tamzin West on 15th Feb 2022

This is an extremely thorough and well referenced book, examining the history and research of HIV and breastfeeding, and the subsequent policy decisions. It is clearly a subject of great passion for the author and raises extremely important questions about policy and decision-making. At times a difficult read emotionally, this is a hugely important book for anyone working in the field. As an IBCLC myself I have learned a huge amount about HIV and breastfeeding from this work.