Sperm washing could be an option for couples who are both HIV-positive, or where the man is HIV-positive and the woman is not.
It is a technique used to separate the seminal fluid, which contains HIV, from the sperm, which do not contain HIV. The remaining sperm are placed in a substitute fluid and inserted into the woman’s vagina when she is ovulating (the time when women are most fertile).
Although it can’t be absolutely guaranteed that no HIV remains, sperm washing is considered very safe. Sperm washing is only available for people with HIV at a few clinics in the UK and you may have to pay for this service. Your doctor or GP can give you more information or answer any queries you may have regarding sperm washing.
To be eligible for sperm washing you will need a referral from your doctor with details of your viral load and CD4 count. There may be other eligibility criteria, depending on which clinic you go to.
If you have difficulty in conceiving or if your partner has a low sperm count, you may want to investigate IVF (in vitro fertilisation) together with sperm washing. You can ask your doctor for a referral to an assisted conception unit where you should receive the same service as couples who are not HIV-positive.
The success rate for sperm washing varies depending on technique used to implant the sperm.
You could also consider the option of using donor sperm.
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This article was last reviewed on
Date due for the next review: 31/10/2014
Content Author: S. Corkery (NAM)
Current Owner: S. Corkery (NAM)
Fakoya A et al.UK Guidelines for the management of sexual and reproductive health of people living with HIV infection (2008) BHIVA, BASHH, FRSH
Bujan L et al. Safety and efficacy of sperm washing in HIV-1 serodiscordant couples where the male is infected: results from the European CREAThE network AIDS 21: 1909-1914, 2007 Vitorino RL et.al.Systematic review of the effectiveness and safety of assisted reproduction techniques in couples serodiscordant for human immunodeficiency virus where the man is positive Volume 95, Issue 5, 1684-1690, April 2011 National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence Management of couples with viral infections.Fertility assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems, 2004 HFEA - Fertility treatment options
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