Stigma Drives Criminalization of Breastfeeding

Though small in number, criminal cases for alleged HIV transmission through breast milk are rising.

And, while cases have also been brought in the US and Canada, most of the cases—9 of 13 documented—were in sub-Saharan Africa.
While women living with HIV in most low- and middle-income countries are advised to continue breastfeeding—provided they are on treatment—courts don’t always recognize being on treatment and having an undetectable viral load as an effective defense.
In countries including Kenya and Malawi, caregivers, rather than mothers, are often prosecuted. The cases are characterized by a moral panic fueled by stigma, says the AIDS Rights Alliance for Southern Africa’s Nyasha Chingore.
While the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has condemned overly broad HIV criminalization, advocates say a breastfeeding-specific resolution is needed.

Ed. Note: Helpful resource: The HIV Justice Network’s Breastfeeding Defence Toolkit


The contribution of unstable housing to HIV and hepatitis C virus transmission among people who inject drugs globally, regionally, and at country level: a modelling study – The Lancet Public Health

Let’s eliminate stigmatization against people living with HIV - Dr Ayisi Addo – Ghana Web (commentary)

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