as an aside, if you take out the element that the mums were hiv+, it underlines the reasons why people who are so doggedly against the promotion of formula and why formula manufacturers should follow the Milk Substitute Code everywhere, ie even when it is freely distributed by the health authorities, things go wrong and there are factors outside their control.
I went to a La Leche League Conference 7 or 8 years ago where they were highlighting this problem and talking about safe ways to bf if the mother is HIV+ - shocking and to see that whilst awareness of the effects of this policy has been there for nearly a decade, nothing has changed
What I've been told, is if the mother is somewhere where safe formula-feeding is possible, then FF is best. Otherwise, the mother should exclusively BF until the baby is ready to wean, at which point she should stop BF and give formula and solids.
All the advice that I have read is the same as you NQC. If it is possible to bottle feed safely, ie you have access to clean water, the ability to sterilise the kit and have enough cash to be sure that you can maintain ff then bottle feeding reduces the risk of passing on the HIV virus.
But if you can't bottle feed safely, the risk of GI diseases to the baby outweighs the risk of HIV.
Advice in the UK is that HIV +ve mothers should bottle feed