Having a Biological Child When Both Partners are HIV Positive
In a recent study with HIV positive men, many didn’t think a biological child was possible but they still wanted to have children. Approximately 40% of HIV-positive adults starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the United States would like to have children in the future regardless of sexual orientation. The great news is that today’s advances have made it possible for HIV-positive intended fathers to make their dream of becoming a parent come true. In fact, thousands of HIV positive people have become parents.
Utilizing ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) & Surrogacy
Single males and male couples with HIV will need an egg donor and a separate gestational carrier (surrogate) in order to have a biological child. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV through sexual contact. Antiretroviral therapies are prescribed drugs that inhibit the ability of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to multiply in the body and can be used to bring the viral loads down to undetectable. These medications help ensure the safety of the surrogate.
The Sperm Washing Technique
Sperm washing is another technique used to decrease HIV transmission risk. WIth this procedure, an HIV-positive man collects an ejaculate and the sample is washed so that the sperm is separated from the seminal fluid. The healthiest sperm are then put into a new fluid for preservation, which makes the sperm safer to use in IUI or IVF. It’s the seminal fluid that transmits HIV, not the sperm. Washed sperm is reported to be 92 to 99 percent free of the virus’s RNA. In more than 4,000 cases of HIV-positive parents using ART methods to conceive a baby, not a single case transmitted the virus to the surrogate or baby. In 2016, a comprehensive international review reported that in double washed sperm used for ART, there were zero cases of HIV transmission in 11,000+ cycles of IUI or IVF.
Extra Precautions and Protocols for Surrogacy
Surrogacy Agencies have some set protocols in place also for extra safety. For example, when a surrogate mother is preparing for the embryo transfer, she may be given medication to prevent the transmission of HIV. This medication can be taken throughout the first semester of pregnancy for extra protection. Surrogate agencies may require the intended parent to verify that they are non-infectious and that they do the following:
- Follow HIV treatment protocol
- Take Medications as directed
- Have an undetectable viral load for a minimum of 6 months
- Not have contracted other sexually transmitted infections within the last 6 months
- Show records of undetectable viral load
- Complete testing for other sexually transmitted diseases
- Provide multiple semen samples for HIV testing
Taking The First Steps
It’s important to talk to your fertility clinic to determine what steps are needed in your personal journey for a healthy pregnancy and child. Your clinic and primary HIV care physician should be in close contact in order to create the best medical plan for you as you move forward.
If you need guidance on where to start as an intended parent living with HIV, you can seek support from our team at the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center. We have a comprehensive fertility team to answer questions you may have about surrogacy programs, sperm washing, IVF, IUI, and any other fertility related questions. We are here to help, just call 949-516-0606 to speak with our office about booking a session, or you can book an online consultation with our founder, Dr. Rosencrantz, to speak about your fertility needs.