Open Access Commentary

Ways ahead: protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding in the context of HIV

Karen Marie I Moland12*, Penny van Esterik3, Daniel W Sellen4, Marina M de Paoli5, Sebalda C Leshabari6 and Astrid Blystad17

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for International Health, University of Bergen, Norway

2 Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Bergen University College, Norway

3 Department of Anthropology, York University, Canada

4 Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Canada

5 Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies, Oslo, Norway

6 MUHAS, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Tanzania

7 Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, University of Bergen, Norway

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International Breastfeeding Journal 2010, 5:19  doi:10.1186/1746-4358-5-19

Published: 26 October 2010


The HIV epidemic coupled with the assumed benefits of infant formula for the children of all HIV-infected mothers have in complex ways changed public ideas about infant feeding and represents a threat to well established breastfeeding practices. In the wake of the confusion that postnatal prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) interventions have created among HIV-infected mothers, infant feeding counsellors and the public at large, it is time to reinstate the principles of the Innocenti Declaration to protect, promote and support breastfeeding in the context of HIV. The challenge that lies ahead is a search for ways to restore the trust in breastfeeding as the normal and safest way to feed an infant. This requires continued research as well as concerted advocacy and action.