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Policy & Politics
California Senate Approves Bill That Would Allow HIV-Positive Men to Have Sperm Washed, Used for Fertility Treatments

August 30, 2007

The California Senate recently voted 35-1 to approve a bill (SB 443) that would allow HIV-positive men to have their sperm washed and used for fertility treatments, the MediaNews/Oakland Tribune reports (Geissinger, MediaNews/Oakland Tribune, 8/29). The bill would allow the washed sperm to be used in treatments such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization under certain guidelines.

The state in 1989 began prohibiting HIV-positive people from donating sperm, blood or tissue in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. The law has prevented HIV-positive men from using reproductive technologies that lower the risk of transmitting HIV to their partners. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Carole Migden (D), would allow couples that include HIV-positive men to use reproductive technology under the following guidelines: the HIV-positive donor's sperm is processed to minimize the risk of HIV transmission; informed mutual consent has occurred; and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recognizes the sperm processing procedures. California is one of two states where couples with an HIV-positive man cannot undergo fertility treatments with his donated sperm, Deborah Cohan, medical director of the Bay Area Perinatal AIDS Center, said. She added that many of those couples try to conceive through intercourse, which increases the risk of HIV transmission to the woman and, potentially, to the infant. Of the 3,800 reported cases outside California in which couples with an HIV-positive man have used reproductive technology, not one case of HIV transmission has been reported, according to Cohan (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/30).

The bill concurred in Assembly amendments and was sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). Migden said that California law "needs to catch up with technology" (MediaNews/Oakland Tribune, 8/29).

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