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A strategy to minimise the impact of maternal HIV
  1. J Hinds,
  2. T Dixon,
  3. D Dix
  1. Department of Biology, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT 06117, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
    Prof. D Dix
    Professor of Biology and Medical Technology, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT 06117, USA;

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Stein and colleagues1 suggest that the “question that most urgently needs to be addressed is: what can be done to help infected women and their young children, and in particular, what intervention strategies are necessary to minimise the impact of maternal HIV?”. One answer is wet-nursing.

Almost half of all children who acquire HIV do so while breast feeding.2 We suggest that donor funds be used to hire HIV negative mothers to work as wet-nurses for HIV positive mothers. This would protect infants against HIV while providing the unique benefits of breast milk. More importantly, perhaps, it would make wet-nursing a profession of high prestige and wet-nurses role models for adolescents. Few poor women know their HIV status.3 Wet-nursing would give them an incentive to remain HIV negative and counter monetary motives for risky sex.4 A wet-nursing profession would build female solidarity, increase female social power,5 and help integrate children of HIV positive mothers into society.6 It would also retain donor funds in poor communities and thereby alleviate poverty.

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  • Competing interests: none

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