Breastmilk protects the infant from many diseases and many short- term and long- term benefits accrue. At the same time it is also known that breastfeeding acts as a vehicle for some infective agents. It is now accepted that breastmilk transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus- 1 (HIV-1) is an important mode of paediatric infection . Despite this fact, many researchers have observed that corresponding to the volume of milk consumed by the infant, maternal transmission via breastmilk is still comparatively low. Some have noted the long latency period of breastmilk HIV transmission with evidence of numerous anti-HIV factors in breastmilk. Although there are accepted standard guidelines on infant feeding in mothers who are HIV positive in many countries, it maybe equally important to realize gaps in our knowledge of mother- to -child HIV transmission. From an evolutionary perspective, the role of the mammary epithelial cell (MEC) and of breastmilk , in contributing to and possibly in influencing HIV-1 transmission is intriguing. The presence of HIV-1 or of other viruses in maternal milk seem to be a requisite to spur immunological defenses to optimize necessary protection to the infant. This article reviews some aspects of the science of HIV transmission through breastmilk and reflects the concept -based understanding of current policies on HIV and breastfeeding. At the same time, it highlights uncertainties in this field and the urgency for future research in this direction. Accepting current notions of breastmilk HIV transmission, greater deliberation by research may throw more light on why breastfeeding with its abundant advantages is fraught with the hazards of transmission of a deadly disease.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.