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A. Schuyler, NP
A. Schuyler, NP, Nurse Practitioner
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 16260
Experience:  Board Certified NP, MS, RN. 25 years private practice & hospitalist
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I'm trying to find information on HIV transmission

Customer Question

Hi, I'm trying to find information on HIV transmission rates/risks through breastfeeding between adults. Do you know if this is something that's been studied?
JA: Have you seen a doctor about this yet? What medications are you taking?
Customer: no, and none.
JA: Anything else in your medical history you think the doctor should know?
Customer: no
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. Saha replied 8 months ago.

Hello,
Thank you for your question.
I am Dr Saha, I shall try my best to help you.

Please write your question in a bit detail.

In which circumstances? are you asking about transmission via breast milk?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
There is a subculture of adult nursing relationships (ANR) / adult breastfeeding (ABF). While i was able to find rates of transmission between mothers and infants; I'd like to know if there is any information as to the rates of HIV transmission between adults through breastfeeding.
Expert:  Dr. Saha replied 8 months ago.

Thank you for all the information,
HIV can be transmitted through breast milk.
So it is possible to get transmitted to adults as in infants.
The risk would depend on the HIV status of the individual.
I hope this information helps.
If there’s anything else I can do, please let me know.
Please rate my answer excellent if you are satisfied with it.
Regards.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Sorry, that doesn't really answer my question. I know that it's theoretically possible between adults, and I know the rates between mother and infants, but I was looking for more concrete studies/rates (%) between adults.
Expert:  Dr. Saha replied 8 months ago.

Sorry, I am opting out.

Other experts would help you.

Expert:  A. Schuyler, NP replied 8 months ago.

Sorry, but there are no studies of adults drinking HIV positive breast milk. That study would never pass any ethical review board since it would run the already well-known risk of HIV transmission. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that the rate of transmission would be any different for adults drinking HIV+ milk than it would for infants. However, there are no studies and won't ever be.

Best regards

Schuyler

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Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Actually, I have found several sources that do state there is a significant difference in rates between adults and infants, due to the underdeveloped immune system of infants. Also, to claim that such a study will never be done or is impossible to do without added exposure to subjects is just plain ignorant. There are several testing methodologies that would avoid introducing any additional risk. I appreciate your time, but please refrain from making such gross assumptions and generalizations when you do not have the information requested. "I don't know" is a much better answer, and a perfectly acceptable (read: respectable) one.
Expert:  A. Schuyler, NP replied 8 months ago.

Sorry my 25 years experience in research in infectious disease (including HIV) doesn't meet your criteria. I will opt out and let someone with more impeccable credentials give you the answer you want.

Expert:  A. Schuyler, NP replied 8 months ago.

If there had ever been such a study you would find it in Pub Med (I didn't find one). Any current study can be found at www.clinicaltrials.gov.

Good luck

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for your time. I did not mean to offend or question your experience in the field. In hindsight my response could have been less accusatory. I understand that this a topic that has received very little if any scientific inquiry. It is this reason, along with the increasing rates of adult breastfeeding and milk sharing online that has lead me to try and compile any information on the subject. That and my professor loved the topic, and didn't have a clue about it.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Again, my apologies, and thank you for the link.
Expert:  A. Schuyler, NP replied 8 months ago.

You're quite welcome to the links.

It's true that babies don't have the developed immune system of an adult. However, the immune system of adults evolves by being exposed to specific elements, such as the HIV virus. The vast majority of adults have never been exposed, so would have no more resistance to HIV than an infant.

To be safe, I would never share milk with someone whose status I did not know for a fact. Buying milk online is just too much of a risk for me to take. Likewise, I would have to know the HIV status of a person I was personally drinking milk from. Anything else is just Russian roulette.

Good luck,

Schuyler

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