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Sustiva and breastfeeding is generally considered to be an unsafe combination. Women with HIV or AIDS should avoid breastfeeding because the virus could be transmitted through breast milk. Since Sustiva is an HIV medication, it should not be used by breastfeeding women. Everyone's situation is different, however, so be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about Sustiva and breastfeeding in your case.

Sustiva and Breastfeeding: An Overview

It is not known whether Sustiva® (efavirenz) passes through breast milk in humans. 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. Therefore, most women taking Sustiva should avoid breastfeeding.

Sustiva and Breastfeeding: What Does the Research Say?

It is not known whether Sustiva passes though breast milk in humans, although studies have shown that it passes through breast milk in rats. Based on the chemical characteristics of Sustiva, it is likely that it passes through breast milk in humans. More importantly, the HIV virus can also pass through breast milk. Any HIV-infected woman who can safely feed her baby 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 to wash the bottles. In these situations, it is difficult to know whether breastfeeding or formula feeding is more dangerous. In general, using both breastfeeding and formula feeding is considered to be most dangerous, 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 Sustiva and Breastfeeding

You should talk with your healthcare provider about Sustiva 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 Sustiva and breastfeeding that is right for you.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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