HIV-free survival at 12-24 months in breastfed infants of HIV-infected women on ART: a systematic review

Lana Clara Chikhungu, Stephanie Bispo Bispo, Nigel Rollins, Nandi Siegfried, Marie-Loiuse Newell

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Objective: To provide estimates of HIV-free survival at 12- 24 months in breastfed children by maternal ART (six months or lifelong) to inform WHO HIV and Infant Feeding guidelines.

Eighteen studies published 2005-2015 were included in a systematic literature review (1295 papers identified, 156 abstracts screened, 55 full texts); papers were analysed by narrative synthesis and meta-analysis of HIV-free survival by maternal ART regimen in a random effects model. We also grouped studies by feeding modality. Study quality was assessed using a modified Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) and GRADE.

The pooled estimates for 12-month HIV-free survival were 89.8% (95% confidence interval, CI: 86.5%, 93.2%) for infants of mothers on ART for six months postnatally (six studies) and 91.4% (95% CI 87.5%, 95.4%) for infants of mothers on lifelong ART (three studies). 18-month HIV-free survival estimates were 89.0% (95% CI 83.9%, 94.2%) with six months ART (five studies) and 96.1% (95% CI 92.8%, 99.0%) with lifelong ART (three studies). 24-month HIV-free survival for infants whose mothers were on ART to six months postnatally (two studies) was 89.2% (95% CI 79.9%, 98.5%). Heterogeneity was considerable throughout. In four studies, HIV-free survival in breastfed infants ranged from 87% (95% CI 78%, 92%) to 96% (95% CI 91%, 98%) and in formula-fed infants from 67% (95% CI 35.5%, 87.9%) to 97.6% (95% CI 93.0%, 98.2%).

Conclusion: Our results highlight the importance of breastfeeding for infant survival and of ART in reducing the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission and support the WHO recommendation to initiate ART for life immediately after HIV diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12710
Pages (from-to)820-828
Number of pages8
JournalTropical Medicine & International Health
Issue number7
Early online date24 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


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