AIDS Home > Isentress and Breastfeeding

If you have HIV or AIDS and are taking Isentress, breastfeeding should be avoided. Although no studies have been done on Isentress and breastfeeding, it is known that the HIV virus can pass through breast milk and infect a nursing infant. Therefore, any woman with HIV who can safely feed her baby with formula is advised to do that instead.

Isentress and Breastfeeding: An Overview

Currently, it is not known if Isentress® (raltegravir) passes through breast milk. However, breastfeeding is almost never recommended for women who have HIV or AIDS in developed countries (such as the United States) in order to reduce the chance of transmitting the HIV infection to their infants. Therefore, most women taking Isentress should avoid breastfeeding.

Isentress and Breastfeeding: What Does the Research Say?

No studies have been done to see if Isentress passes though breast milk in humans. In studies, the drug passed through breast milk in rats, but it did not seem to cause any problems in the newborn rats. But because the HIV virus can 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. In general, the most dangerous situation in these cases is both breastfeeding and formula feeding, as digestive system irritation or infections from unclean water can allow HIV to pass into the body from the digestive tract more easily.

Talking With Your Healthcare Provider About Isentress and Breastfeeding

You should talk with your healthcare provider about Isentress and breastfeeding. Each woman's situation is different, and you and your healthcare provider understand your situation best. After considering what you want and expect, as well as your current health situation, the two of you can make a shared decision about Isentress and breastfeeding that is right for you.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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