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HIV and IVF treatment

19 Feb 2021

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 1990’s. The first successful trial of an HIV-positive man undergoing artificial insemination with an HIV-negative woman was performed in 1992. 

Sperm washing for IVF 

Sperm washing, allows your fertility specialist or doctor to eliminate the possibility of transmitting the virus, by separating sperm from its seminal fluid. It allows doctors to identify the area in which the virus lies to reduce the risk of spreading HIV to the surrogate and child. 

In 2016, research compiled from 40 studies in the journal Fertility and Sterility uncovered zero transference of HIV 11,585 sperm washing procedures in almost 4,000 women before IVF or IUI. 

However, the chance of passing on HIV will be greatly reduced but never completely gone, and this should be heavily considered by you and your surrogate before undergoing IVF.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) may also be an option for you to consider if you have poor quality sperm after the washing procedure.

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 been 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 safe as it will lower the viral load to “undetectable levels” and prevent it from passing down to your child. 

Specific test requirements for HIV-positive intended parents

If you’re considering IVF at PFCLA, you’ll need to go through 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. 

Taking part in these tests will help us make the best decision for you. 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, get in touch with our doctors to set up a consultation and discuss your options. 

Note: This is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information provided is for general educational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. Speak to your doctor directly with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Any information contained herein does not replace any care plan as determined by a physician. 

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