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HIV and AIDS

Risk Of An HIV Positive Man Having Children?

07/12/1999

Question:

What are the risks related to the situation of an HIV positive man who wants to have a child? Is there a way to do this without putting the child and its mother at significant risk?

Answer:

That is a very interesting question, and one that I think will be asked more and more frequently in the future as people with HIV do better and live longer because of improvements in medical therapy. As I understand the issue, infectious HIV viral components are found in the seminal fluid, NOT the sperm. Of course you only need the uninfected sperm, and a willing female partner (or surrogate, etc.). Fertility clinics that deal with artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization are capable of "washing" the sperm of MOST of the seminal fluid and therefore, at least theoretically, would be capable of helping you with your desired goal. The difficult part here is that MOST is not the same as ALL. And so there would still be some risk (although a greatly reduced one) that a woman artificially inseminated with such washed sperm could become HIV infected, as well as then possibly the resulting child. I`m not sure it`s possible to estimate the risk in terms of a percentage since I don`t think it`s been done very often. Fertilization outside the womb with subsequent implantation into the uterus, I would think, would involve the least risk of all. You might want to contact such a fertility clinic or sperm bank in your area to discuss this further if you are interested. You should also know that each office or operation sets its own guidelines or ethics for what it will and won`t do -- there is little standardization or consensus on these matters.

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Response by:

Kenneth   Skahan, MD Kenneth Skahan, MD
Assistant Professor in Infectious Diseases
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati