AIDS Home > Complera and Breastfeeding

Women with HIV or AIDS are usually advised to avoid breastfeeding -- this includes women who are taking Complera (emtricitabine/rilpivirine/tenofovir). HIV can pass through breast milk and may be transmitted to a nursing infant. However, there are situations where formula feeding is more dangerous, so make sure you talk to your healthcare provider before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Can Breastfeeding Women Take Complera?

At least two of the three active ingredients in Complera™ (emtricitabine/rilpivirine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) pass through breast milk in humans. Regardless, it is almost always recommended that women with HIV or AIDS in developed countries, such as the United States, avoid breastfeeding in order to reduce the chance of transmitting the HIV infection to their infants. As a result, most women taking Complera should not breastfeed.

More Information on Complera and Breastfeeding

Studies have shown that emtricitabine and tenofovir pass through breast milk in women. Rilpivirine passes through breast milk in rats, although it is unknown if the same is true for humans. Importantly, HIV can also pass through breast milk. Any HIV-infected woman who can safely feed her baby with formula should not breastfeed.
There are some situations in which formula feeding is not safe, such as if no clean water supply is available to mix the formula or wash the bottles. In these situations, it is difficult to know whether breastfeeding or formula feeding is more dangerous. However, using both breastfeeding and formula feeding in these cases is considered the most dangerous possibility, as digestive system irritation or infections from unclean water can allow HIV to pass into the body from the digestive tract more easily.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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