Scientists at the University of Cambridge, with collaborators from the United States, are modifying a conventional nipple shield to include replaceable inserts. These inserts will contain an anti-viral agent which will be delivered to the infant while breastfeeding to prevent HIV infection from an HIV+ mother.
They are currently exploring a number of cheap, edible microbicides which are deposited on the insert and released into the milk during breastfeeding, significantly reducing the HIV infectivity in the breast milk. Breastfeeding accounts for up to one third of all mother-to-child transmissions of HIV, approximately 200,000 babies every year, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, the mothers often have no alternative but to breastfeed as formula is typically even more deadly for the infant than the risk of HIV infection (due to the malnutrition and diarrhoea it often causes when used in low resource settings).