Stephen Gerrard has been awarded a Clinton Global Initiative University Outstanding Commitment Award for JustMilk - Preventing HIV Transmission in Breastfeeding.
The project aims to test and produce a novel, low-cost modified nipple shield that can be used by HIV-positive mothers to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV through breastfeeding.
The proposed device is a modified nipple shield (used to aid breastfeeding mothers), the tip of which holds a replaceable insert containing a microbicide, medication or nutritional supplement.
The mother can place the device over her nipple and feed her baby; as breast milk passes through the nipple shield and disk, the active agent is released from the insert, and in the case of Stephen's current project kills HIV in the breast milk or delivers a medication to reduce likelihood of HIV infection without disrupting breastfeeding.
This commitment will develop a prototype by setting up an apparatus that can mimic the breastfeeding process, the suction of a baby, and incorporate the nipple shield containing an insert. In one experimental set-up HIV-infected milk will be passed through the apparatus, with a nipple shield mimic containing various formulations and the reduction of HIV infectivity measured.
Information gathered through this apparatus will provide the data necessary for large-scale product development. The initial goal will be to create a market for the devices, while building awareness and seeding demand. Devices made either in the country or abroad would move from manufacturers through new or existing distributor networks, such as medical supplies for healthcare providers or consumer channels along with formula and other baby care items. Finally, the product will move to healthcare providers or directly to mothers.