Getting Pregnant: HIV-Positive Woman and HIV-Positive Man (Seroconcordant)
This involves using IVF and eggs donated by another woman, who is checked for fertility and diseases. The woman who is donating eggs takes fertility drugs to help her prepare eggs (also called ripening her eggs). When eggs are ready (or ripe), they are removed from her ovary and put in a dish with sperm. Once there is a fertilized egg (embryo), it is put in your womb (uterus). Although this method uses the eggs of a woman who is HIV-negative, it is still important for you to take HIV drugs to prevent passing HIV on to your child during pregnancy or childbirth.
Your egg is fertilized using IVF or ICSI, then transferred to another woman's surrogate womb. The surrogate carries and gives birth to your child. Although it is biologically possible to have an HIV+ woman's egg fertilized by an HIV+ man's washed sperm and implanted in an HIV-negative surrogate, you may encounter several legal or regulatory challenges to this option for getting pregnant. Even if this option is legal in your state, it may be difficult to find fertility clinics or surrogacy centers willing to provide this service to HIV+ people.
Egg Donation + Surrogacy
As a woman living with HIV, you may choose to have your partner's sperm fertilize an HIV-negative woman's egg and have that same HIV-negative woman give birth to your child. In this situation, the man's sperm would need to be washed, then used with an assisted reproductive technique described above to get the HIV-negative surrogate pregnant.
Offering a permanent family to a parentless child may be an option if having biologic offspring is not a good choice for you. Adoptions can be done within the U.S or internationally. Some agencies and/or countries may have prejudices against HIV+ people adopting children.
Finding a Provider and Building a Support Network
Regardless of your HIV status, choosing to have a child can be a very difficult and very exciting decision. While having a supportive relationship with a knowledgeable health care provider is a good idea for any potential parent, for people living with HIV it is even more important. A friendly health care provider can talk with you about many issues around pregnancy and having children: which option is right for you, appropriate HIV treatments for you and/or your partner, whether to disclose your HIV status to others (including other providers, your child's pediatrician, additional friends and family), and how to handle the stigma and fear around being HIV+ and pregnant.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a friendly health care provider who is knowledgeable about HIV and pregnancy. Some health care providers simply are not aware of the wealth of information about pregnancy planning for their HIV+ patients. Perhaps even more challenging, though, are the judgmental attitudes still held by many health care providers. When The Well Project's Founder, Dawn Averitt Bridge, asked providers about getting pregnant, she faced some very negative reactions before she found a wonderful provider who supported her desire to have children. For more about Dawn's experience in trying to get pregnant, and subsequently, having two healthy HIV-negative daughters, please read click the links below:
The Well Project has started a list of friendly family planning providers who are informed about pregnancy planning for HIV+ people. Even though the providers listed might not be in your area or town, it might be worth a call or email to answer any questions you might have or for possible referrals. You can also contact Shannon Weber with the Perinatal HIV Hotline at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about pregnancy planning and resources for people living with HIV.
Given the existing stigma against HIV+ people having children, you may encounter judgmental responses from others. Therefore, it is important that you build a strong support network of loving family, friends, and providers. Your support network can help you make good decisions and weather the negative, sometimes disheartening moments. If you do not have a good number of friends and family who support you, you may consider starting your own support group; for more information, see our info sheet "Starting a Support Group."
Ultimately, you get to choose when and whether to have children. You deserve to be treated with respect and given access to the information necessary to make an informed decision and plan for your future.
The Women's Collective Releases Toolkit for Advancing the Sexual and Reproductive Health of Women Living With HIV/AIDS
Getting Pregnant: HIV-Positive Single Woman or HIV-Positive Woman in Same-Sex Relationship (Serodiscordant or Seroconcordant)
This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
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