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HIV in sperm cell
May 16, 2007

I've been doing a lot of research on sperm washing as my husband and I are a serodiscordant couple trying to start a family. Is it true that the HIV virus can live in the sperm cell and if so, is there a test to verify? Even though my husband's viral load is undetectable, I'm still not comfortable w/ taking the risk even a small as it may be that I or the baby may be infected.

Thanks for your help.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

HIV cannot live inside a sperm cell. It is contained in cells in ejaculate, but not actually in the sperm itself. That is why sperm washing techniques have been so effective in dramatically lowering the risk of HIV transmission for magnetic couples wishing to conceive a child. I would suggest you discuss your concerns with an HIV-knowledgeable obstetrician at a medical facility that performs sperm washing and in vitro fertilization for HIV serodiscordant couples. If after that discussion you remain uncomfortable with the potential risk, you should not proceed. You may need to consider other options, such as adoption or in vitro fertilization with sperm from a donor other than your husband. However, after thoroughly reviewing the available data on sperm washing and in vitro fertilization, I would not be at surprised if you, like so many other magnetic couples, find the risks acceptable and decide to proceed with your plans for conception.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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