Cape Town - More HIV-positive mothers in the Western Cape are opting for breast-feeding over formula feeding as the government intensifies its campaign for women to breast-feed exclusively to reduce child mortality.

Sithembiso Magubane, spokesperson for the provincial Department of Health, said about 53 percent of HIV-infected mothers breast-fed their babies last year, while 47 percent chose formula food. This is a vast improvement on the rate in 2010 when about 82 percent of HIV-positive mothers chose formula.

August 1 to 7 is international World Breast-feeding Week.

 

Following Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s signing of the Tshwane Declaration of Support for Breast-Feeding in 2011, the government had gradually done away with the provision of free formula to HIV-positive mothers in state-run hospitals and clinics – unless certified by a doctor.

The declaration committed resources to promoting exclusive breast-feeding and providing support for workplace breast-feeding.

Nationally, exclusive breast-feeding remains low at about 8 percent – the lowest rate in the world. Although HIV is transmitted in breast milk, when given with antiretrovirals, exclusive breast-feeding cuts the risk of HIV transmission to below two percent. - Cape Argus