Managing your fertility options when you have HIV

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an incurable yet manageable chronic illness that affects people of all ages. However, men and women of reproductive age (between 15 and 44) make up the largest group of individuals affected by the virus – approximately one-third of whom eventually want to have a family.

Although HIV doesn’t typically affect one’s fertility, the virus can be transmitted from one person to another, and from an infected mother to her baby. Therefore, having children can be a concern for couples when one of the partners is HIV positive. Fortunately, current available treatments for HIV can help reduce the rates of transmission of HIV to partners and offspring.

For women who carry the virus, various options can help reduce the rate of HIV transmission to their newborn (to approximately 2%), including antiretroviral therapy, delivery by Cesarean section, and avoiding breastfeeding. If the levels of the virus are undetectable in the mother, a vaginal delivery with a low risk of transmission may be possible. A newborn may also receive medication during the first weeks of life which further decreases the risk of contracting HIV.

Couples where the male partner is HIV positive have several options to help reduce the likelihood of transmission, including sperm preparation techniques (e.g., sperm washing) in conjunction with fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Additionally, couples where one or both of the partners are infected with HIV also have the option of electing to undergo fertility treatments with donor sperm or donor eggs or they can pursue adoption.

If you carry the HIV virus and wish to become a parent, it will be important to speak with your doctor or fertility specialist about your family building options.

To read about ways to minimize the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, click here.

To read more about sperm washing, click here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>