By Neus Ferrando Gilabert BSc, MSc (embryologist) and Aitziber Domingo Bilbao BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 05/28/2014

Developments in reproductive medicine and assisted reproductive techniques give many HIV-positive couples the chance to have healthy children and reduce to the minimum the risk of passing the infection to the non-carrier partner or to offspring.

People infected by HIV can expect a more or less normal life span. It can affect people of all ages and heterosexual couples in childbearing age desiring to become parents. For this reason, these couples are the ones who usually visit fertility clinics to undergo an assisted reproductive treatment.

HIV

Couples where one or both of the members are carriers of the virus visit the hospital already knowing that they are infected or some find it out there after undergoing the compulsory viral tests for syphilis, hepatitis, and HIV before the beginning of any assisted reproductive treatment.

During the Day for Human Rights and HIV/AIDS that took place on October, 2010 in Navarra, Spain, it was said that one of the requirements that both the infected man and/or woman must meet is to have the illness controlled and be physically fit.

When it is the man who carries the virus, there are techniques such as seminal lavage where the viral load is removed. After this step, the sample is evaluated by means of PCR in order to check if it is free from virus and, therefore, able to be used for an artificial insemination (AIH) or an in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

If it is the woman who carries the virus, anti-retroviral therapies while pregnant, caesarean delivery, or not breastfeeding the baby will reduce the chances for passing HIV to the baby to 2%.

FAQs from users

Which one do you recommend in patients with HIV? IUI or IVF?

By Aitziber Domingo Bilbao BSc, MSc (embryologist).

When a man is affected by HIV, the first thing we would do is washing the semen sample, which removes the seminal plasma, so that the sample contains spermatozoa only. Thanks to this technique, we are able to remove the virus from semen samples. After the washing, we examine the sample to detect copies of the virus using the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test. If the PCR is negative or the number of copies is low, the sample can be used for a fertility treatment. In this cases, we recommend patients to choose ICSI, as a sperm washing affects the sperm count and motility.

Authors and contributors

 Neus Ferrando Gilabert
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the University of Valencia (UV). Postgraduate Course in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the Miguel Hernández University of Elche (UMH). Experience managing Embryology and Andrology Labs at Centro Médico Manzanera (Logroño, Spain). More information
 Aitziber Domingo Bilbao
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the University of the Basque Country. Master's Degree in Human Assisted Reproduction from the Complutense University of Madrid, and Master's Degree in Biomedical Research from the University of the Basque Country. Wide experience as an Embryologist specialized in Assisted Procreation. More information