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Magnetic couple, 9 months pregnant, worried

May 26, 2009

Dear and wonderful Dr. Frascino:

My husband and I are a magnetic couple: he's positive and I'm negative. Last year we followed your advice on conceiving safely after undergoing sperm-washing and IVF-ICSI. Now we're about to have a baby. I consistently tested negative throughout my pregnancy and we practice protected sex 100% of the time. The clinic, where we had the sperm washing, however, instructed us to test the baby for HIV immediately following the birth and then at 3 months and then again at 6 months. I have two questions in relation to that:

1. Is it ever possible for a negative mother to give birth to a positive child? If there is no such thing, I'd like to spare my child from several rounds of unnecessary blood work.

2. Let's suppose the answer to the first question is yes and the child is positive while I'm negative, would the child have enough antibodies built up at the time of birth to really test positive?

We look forward to your responses. Thank you!!!

Response from Dr. Frascino


I'll first respond to your specific questions:

1. An HIV-negative mother cannot give birth to an HIV-infected child.

2. No, HIV-antibody tests in newborns are not accurate. Such tests can reflect passive anti-HIV antibodies from the mother if she were HIV positive.

I understand your concerns completely. The only reason to consider testing a newborn in your situation would involve your becoming HIV infected sometime during your last trimester. In that extremely unlikely scenario you could test HIV-antibody negative but still be HIV infected and transmit the virus to your baby during childbirth or with breastfeeding. However, if there is absolutely no chance of this extremely unlikely scenario occurring, I see absolutely no reason to test your new addition. Perhaps the sperm-washing clinic is just collecting data to further prove the safety and efficacy of this treatment.

Be well and congratulations to both you and your husband on your upcoming new addition.

Dr. Bob

i love you

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