August 31, 2011
Health Canada on Tuesday warned of the potential disease risks associated with buying donor semen from unregulated online assisted-conception businesses. Prompted by media reports of the phenomenon, this is the agency's second such warning in the past year.
"Health Canada is reminding Canadians of the serious potential health risks of using donor semen for assisted conception obtained through potentially unreliable sources, such as the Internet," stated the agency. "There are strict controls in place for obtaining donor semen," in order to minimize the risk of passing on "a range of infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B or C, syphilis, chlamydia, or gonorrhea to both mother and any child born through the use of donor semen," the agency said.
Regulations require semen donors to be screened before the donation and again six months after, and the semen must be quarantined for at least six months, Health Canada said. "Canadians should be cautious of websites advertising the availability of semen, such as 'fresh' semen that has not been processed and cryopreserved (frozen), with claims that the semen donors have been properly screened and tested, as such claims may not be true." Health Canada publishes a list of approved semen donation processors and importers.
The warning was not promoted by any reports of actual infections; rather, "We're just being diligent," said Gary Holub, a Health Canada spokesperson.