Breastfeeding with maternal antiretroviral therapy or formula feeding to prevent HIV postnatal mother-to-child transmission in Rwanda

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Objective:To assess the 9-month HIV-free survival of children with two strategies to prevent HIV mother-to-child transmission.Design:Nonrandomized interventional cohort study.Setting:Four public health centres in Rwanda.Participants:Between May 2005 and January 2007, all consenting HIV-infected pregnant women were included.Intervention:Women could choose the mode of feeding for their infant: breastfeeding with maternal HAART for 6 months or formula feeding. All received HAART from 28 weeks of gestation. Nine-month cumulative probabilities of HIV transmission and HIV-free survival were determined using the Kaplan–Meier method and compared using the log-rank test. Determinants were analysed using a Cox model analysis.Results:Of the 532 first-liveborn infants, 227 (43%) were breastfeeding and 305 (57%) were formula feeding. Overall, seven (1.3%) children were HIV-infected of whom six were infected in utero. Only one child in the breastfeeding group became infected between months 3 and 7, corresponding to a 9-month cumulative risk of postnatal infection of 0.5% [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.1–3.4%; P = 0.24] with breastfeeding. Nine-month cumulative mortality was 3.3% (95% CI 1.6–6.9%) in the breastfeeding arm group and 5.7% (95% CI 3.6–9.2%) for the formula feeding group (P = 0.20). HIV-free survival by 9 months was 95% (95% CI 91–97%) in the breastfeeding group and 94% (95% CI 91–96%) for the formula feeding group (P = 0.66), with no significant difference in the adjusted analysis (adjusted hazard ratio for breastfeeding: 1.2 (95% CI 0.5–2.9%).Conclusion:Maternal HAART while breastfeeding could be a promising alternative strategy in resource-limited countries.

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