Woman breastfeeds neighbour’s baby, faces prison

A Zimbabwean woman appeared in court after allegedly breastfeeding her neighbour’s baby without consent, reports the Africa Review. Pending the outcome of a second test on the baby to see if the child is now HIV-positive, she may be charged with “deliberately infecting another person with HIV” under Botswana’s new legislation aimed at curbing HIV infection rates in the country.

An initial test result was that the child tested negative for HIV, however a follow up test must still be done.

The child’s mother is claiming that the woman hid her child next door, and that she had spotted her breastfeeding the little girl.

HIV and breastfeeding

Obviously consent must be given before someone may breastfeed another person’s baby, but is it safe?

While recent studies have shown that HIV-positive moms should breastfeed their babies even if the baby is HIV negative, this advisement comes with strict conditions. Mother-to-child transmission is significantly reduced when the mom is taking ARVs, according to the World Health Organisation, but breastfeeding beyond four months is not advised by government. Government also advises that the child must be exclusively breastfed for the four months, and not partially formula fed, and that after the four months, the child must not be breastfed together with bottle feeding.

Shared breastfeeding is not recommended unless the HIV status of the breastfeeding woman is known, as HIV may be transmitted by breastfeeding.
Should a child be HIV-positive there are many ways of helping the child adjust to his or her status, and many families function almost normally despite coping with a chronic illness. You can read more about managing HIV infection within families here:

Mama is HIV-positive

Telling your child he is HIV-positive

The exposure of another person to HIV through sexual activity or breastfeeding without divulging your status could lead to criminal charges or even prison.

*It's always advisable to get tested for HIV. Do ask your medical professional for advice on how to do this.

Have you been tested for HIV?

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