Accepted paper:

Best or worst? Diverging interpretations on breastfeeding amongst African HIV positive mothers in the era of 'normalization' of AIDS prevention


Alice Desclaux (IRD (INSERM, Univ. Montpellier), CRCF)
Chiara Alfieri (Université Paul Cézanne d'Aix-Marseille)

Paper short abstract:

Based on ethnographic data from Burkina Faso and Senegal, this presentation shows how discourses, from international agencies to HIV positive women, interpret breastfeeding as either 'at risk' or protective, according to context. It reveals logics for Senegalese women's recent protest.

Paper long abstract:

As epidemiological evidence has shown that breastfeeding transmits HIV to 1/3 infants of HIV positive mothers, public health discourses about breastfeeding amongst HIV women, and about overall breastfeeding, are diverse. They reflect partly the diversity of epidemiological, social, sanitary and medical contexts that impact on infant feeding possibilities and transmission rates. In 2009, WHO recommendations proposed to prevent HIV transmission by combining breastfeeding with prophylactic antiretroviral therapy. This new schedule that aims at « normalizing » infant feeding in resource-poor settings confronted to HIV was not approved by all African mothers. This presentation, based on ethnographic data from Burkina Faso and Senegal, will analyze how discourses at various levels, from international agencies to public health programs, health workers and HIV positive women, build breastfeeding practices either as « at risk » or as protective.

panel W056
The breast milk problem: cultural considerations when mother's own milk is unavailable