Prospective surrogate mothers may find the possibility of HIV-positive sperm donation frightening. And perhaps rightfully so—the virus and its debilitating effects are estimated to affect 1.1 million people in the United States. The statistic for documented transmission of HIV to surrogate mothers or their offspring via in vitro fertilization is much more encouraging: zero.
At one prominent clinic, the Bedford Research Foundation Clinical Laboratory, cutting-edge HIV-testing protocols and a medical procedure called “sperm washing” has made the risk of transmission from an HIV-positive parent virtually nonexistent. As of September 2011, no one using tested semen as a surrogate through in vitro fertilization has been infected.
Sperm washing gives surrogate mothers a profound level of safety and security in HIV-positive sperm donation. In an HIV-positive male, the virus lives in the seminal transport fluid—not the semen cells. By placing sperm samples in a centrifuge tube and spinning at high velocity, doctors can separate the infected seminal fluid from the semen cells. Then, only those semen cells that test negative for the virus are inserted into the surrogate egg.
Nothing in life is absolute, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a safer avenue for helping HIV-positive parents realize their dream of creating a family.
Two-time surrogate mother Jaime carried the child of HIV-positive parents for her second journey. She can attest to the minimal risk of the experience. “Medical technology has come so far, it’s amazing. Not only do they ‘wash’ the sperm of the virus, but it undergoes so many more tests that the risk for infection of anything is probably no different than with a non-HIV parent.
As with surrogacy at large, carrying a child for HIV-positive parents who cannot conceive on their own can be a profound, life-changing experience. “My first surrogate journey was a non-HIV couple and their boy is a very healthy, happy four-year-old,” Jaime recalls. “My second journey was for an HIV-positive couple and their baby is as healthy and happy as can be. To the intended parents out there carrying the virus, don’t be discouraged. There is a special angel out there that will give you the family you always dreamed of.”
Knowing that the risk of contracting HIV from an HIV-positive parent is virtually non-existent, would you consider being that special angel?
Click here to learn more about becoming a surrogate.