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HIV+ Impregnate HIV- ?

Nov 7, 1996

We are one of many couples who would like to have a child but cannot even try due to the risk of passing on the HIV infection. We have heard that there is a doctor in Milan who uses a sperm washing method that has resulted in over 100 pregnancies from sperm of HIV+ men without a single HIV infection being passed on to any of the woman. Isn't there someone here in the USA who is willing to try this method? Isn't it true that the virus is very fragile outside of the body? Couldn't it be killed with chemicals or intolerable temperatures or simply be washed away while leaving the sperm intact? What about this new single sperm injection method? Would that present any HIV risk? Is there anyone in this country who we can turn to? Thanks.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question.

I have been asked this same question several times from other couples around the USA. I have tried to locate through several sources if this procedure is being done here in the USA. So far, I have not been able to locate a similar study being performed here in the USA. I will let you know if I find anything as soon as I get information about a similar study.

There is an experimental procedure in place that is claimed to remove most of the HIV virus in sperm for use in artificial insemination. I can provide you with the experimental protocol they have devised if you send me your e-mail address (if you choose to do so). The original researchers in this study were:

Semprini AE; Levi-Setti PE; Bozzo M; Taglioretti A; Giuntelli S; Pardi G; Jaeger H; Sonnenberg-Schwan U Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Milan, Italy.

The HIV virus is very fragile outside the human body......however so are sperm cells. Their experimental procedure is looking at ways of perfecting getting rid of HIV out of semen, without removing or damaging sperm cells themselves. In semen, HIV is found both free in the seminal fluid, as well as in white blood cells normally found in semen. I must emphasize that the procedure being done in Italy is experimental, and does not guarantee that all HIV would be removed from the semen, prior to artificial insemination.

Again, I'd be happy to send you the protocol they have used, but I have not (yet) found any place in the USA where this procedure is being tried. Among the many sources I have already checked include the AIDS Clinical Trials Information Service and the National Institutes of Health. Both are unaware of similar studies being performed in this country. I'll keep looking however.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide). Rick Sowadsky MSPH CDS

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