|David Crowe, President
Calgary, Alberta, T2N 4S6, Canada
La Leche League helps breastfeeding mothers around the world through education and promotion of the benefits of this practice. Fear of infectious HIV in breastmilk is causing many people and organizations to recommend that HIV-positive women do not breastfeed. This is the most serious new threat to the practice of breastfeeding around the world, and will have an unknown impact on many babies.
David Crowe, President of the Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society was invited to speak at their annual international conference. His presentation on July 9, 2001 was entitled Infectious HIV in Breastmilk: Fact or Fantasy? (PDF file, email us if you would like a paper copy). This presentation describes weaknesses in all the methods of testing for infectious HIV in breastmilk, and in the epidemiologic evidence as well. It calls on breastfeeding advocates to investigate the science behind HIV and AIDS themselves and not rely on the pronouncements of AIDS researchers that breastfeeding is now dangerous in HIV-positive women. Modern medicine has a long history of hostility to breastfeeding and other natural practices.
Session 205, Perspectives on HIV, AIDS, and Breastfeeding: Research, Recommendations, Realities, and Reason, was introduced by Marian Tompson, one of the 7 founders of La Leche in 1956, and much more recently founder of the new non-profit organization named AnotherLook, because it plans to take another look at the evidence that infectious HIV is present in breastmilk.
The second presenter was Cathy Liles, a breast feeding consultant from Texas. Her presentation, Perspectives on HIV/AIDS and Breastfeeding, focused on the lack of health outcomes information on breastfeeding by HIV-positive women. In other words, is formula feeding going to result in lower infant death rates compared to breastfeeding, even if breastfeeding does result in additional infections? The most prevalent estimate of infections through breastfeeding are that it will not change the HIV status of 86% of infants. Is it really true that the ill effects of formula on 100% of infants are less than the reduction of HIV transmission in 14%?