Living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is challenging, bringing heartache and confusion for those close and involved.
For male intended parents seeking to start a family, a cloud of worry looms overhead. However, given the scientific advances and treatments now available for people living with HIV, individuals and gay couples often wonder,
"Can I participate in In vitro fertilization treatment (IVF) if I'm HIV positive, and will my children carry the disease?"
Many HIV-positive couples desire their own children, just as it's everyone's right to do so. Now it’s possible to undergo IVF to create happy, healthy babies since the advancement in medical technology.
Let’s learn about assisted reproductive technology (ART) that can allow HIV-positive couples and individuals to conceive safely with sperm washing, and how to mitigate the chances of HIV from being passed down to your child.
Participating in IVF as an HIV-Positive Male
Yes, if you’re an HIV-positive male and considering IVF, the advances in ART have made it possible for you to use your sperm during IVF treatment. PFCLA regularly works with HIV-positive male intended parents.
Commonly used ART methods have been used across Europe since the early 1990s. The first successful trial of an HIV-positive man undergoing artificial insemination with an HIV-negative woman was performed in 1992.
How Antiretroviral Therapy Affects IVF Treatment
Standard antiretroviral therapy uses a mix of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to mitigate the progression of HIV disease and control the virus. If you’ve tested positive for HIV and have yet to start this HIV treatment, you’ll need to do so before starting your journey to parenthood.
And don’t worry, the ARV drugs won’t affect the IVF treatment or your surrogate, but instead, keep her safer as it will lower the viral load to “undetectable levels” and significantly lower your risk of passing it down to your child through sperm samples provided to Bedford SPAR.
Specific Test Requirements for HIV-Positive Intended Parents
If you’re considering IVF at PFCLA, you’ll need to undergo a series of required tests before beginning the treatment to ensure that your gestational carrier is kept safe throughout her journey.
HIV Viral Load and Blood Tests
Prior to starting your IVF cycle, you’ll need to undergo an HIV viral load test to measure the number of HIV particles present in your blood. You’ll also need to take part in a blood test that looks into your CD4 cells (a type of white blood cell) in the body as part of your immune system.
"Sperm Washing" is a term often used erroneously to describe the process of identifying semen samples without any HIV virus. In reality, there are no proven techniques to eliminate the HIV virus by "washing" the sperm. At PFCLA we require HIV+ intended parents intending to use a surrogate, regardless of their viral load, to participate in the Bedford SPAR sperm-testing program (https://www.bedfordspar.org/) The Bedford SPAR program is the premier program in the United States for testing sperm samples from intended parents for the HIV virus so that samples provided are known to not contain the virus. Intended parents will spend a few days in Bedford, MA providing samples, which will be tested for the virus, cleared, and shipped frozen to PFCLA for use in the IVF cycle. Intended parents will arrange to pay for these tests directly with the Bedford SPAR staff.
Taking part in these tests and procedures will help us make the best decision for you and your gestational carrier. Know that PFCLA will always have your best interests at heart!
Learn More About Your Fertility Options
Every day, male intended parents such as yourself are still undecided over starting your parenthood journey. Rest assured that fertility experts out there can ensure you a comfortable and risk-free solution to your unique situation. There are also many surrogates from reputable agencies such as our in-house program, Hatch, who are happy to work with HIV-positive male intended parents.
To learn more about your family-building options as an HIV-positive individual, feel free to call either of our clinics during business hours or use the link below to get in touch.
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