EVMS Researchers Experiment with Infected Men Fathering HIV-Free Children
April 9, 2001
Researchers at Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk, Va., are experimenting with a technique through which HIV-positive men can father children without passing the virus to their wives or babies. The facility, a division of Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), is one of only a handful of US fertility centers using the process. In the procedure, sperm is isolated from the fluid and white blood cells around it, where HIV is most likely to be found. If doctors cannot find HIV in the sperm sample, it is joined with an egg through in vitro fertilization.
Mahmood Morshedi, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at EVMS, reported that three children have been born during the past 2.5 years using the method. All have repeatedly tested negative for HIV, and their mothers remain disease-free. Morshedi noted that the doctors have limited their services to couples with the best chances for success. Only men with low viral levels are accepted, and men with full-blown AIDS are rejected, as are women with HIV. Three of four attempts have resulted in pregnancies at Jones Institute, which was the birthplace of the nation's first "test tube baby."
Because of the stigma surrounding AIDS, doctors who work in the field are reluctant to have their work publicized. Even health officials do not know how many clinics around the country offer the service, said Dr. Steven J. Ory, a board member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). One program is run by Mark Sauer, a Columbia University professor of obstetrics and gynecology. He has enrolled 50 couples; 10 babies have been born; and 20 more women are now pregnant. All the mothers and babies have tested negative for HIV, Sauer said, and several couples had twins or triplets. The ASRM and the CDC both recommended against inseminating disease-free women with sperm from HIV-positive men in 1990, after a Richmond woman underwent an earlier version of the procedure and contracted HIV from her husband, a hemophiliac. Morshedi said today's procedure is much safer, and he hopes the CDC and ASRM will re-evaluate their recommendation.
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.