Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

Step-by-Step: Sperm Washing
Special Positive Parenting Section

Compiled by Enid Vázquez

September/October 2003

1. Find a Sensitive Medical Provider

2. Get Money

3. Check for Fertility Problems in Both Partners Before Proceeding

4. Lower Viral Load

5. Look for Other STDs

6. Use Sperm Washing

7. Test the Sperm Sample

8. Store the Sperm Sample

9. Fertilization

10. Insemination

Low-Tech Methods at Home

Even after sperm washing, there's no 100% guarantee that HIV will not be transmitted. Ironically, sperm doesn't seem to be infected by HIV; however, HIV may be present in the seminal fluid surrounding the sperm. In addition, while sperm washing and testing may be relatively simple and inexpensive, the processes and procedures involved with in vitro fertilization, zygote implantation, and clinical insemination are complex and expensive. These are, however, the safest ways to conceive. Please note that the clinics listed have differences of opinion in which procedure is best to use. The Web sites or a consultation will clarify those differences.

Using a turkey baster or syringe (without the needle) at home is more risky. Here, too, is another irony: the risk of infection with one act of vaginal intercourse is relatively low. The risk of infection increases with the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases or lesions, repeated unprotected intercourse, higher HIV viral load and biological factors in the man and the woman that are still largely not understood and which cannot be detected at home. Doctors cannot publicly advocate for these procedures -- another good reason why you need a compassionate physician to guide you in private.


  1. American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Visit

  2. Bay Area Perinatal AIDS Center (BAPAC), at the University of California, San Francisco's (UCSF) Positive Health Program in San Francisco General Hospital. Offers pre-conception counseling and infertility work-up to seroconcordant and discordant couples (both partners positive or one partner is positive). Also conducts prenatal care to HIV-positive women. Call (415) 206-8919. Visit

  3. Center for Women's Reproductive Care, at Columbia University in New York City. Conducts IVF for serodiscordant couples. Call (646) 756-8282.

  4. Duncan Holly Biomedical. Operates the Special Program of Assisted Reproduction (SPAR), started in 1994 as a support group for couples living with incurable sexually transmitted virus diseases such as HIV. Developed a mail-in product for shipping sperm-washed samples to fertility clinics around the country, as well as an HIV testing kit for sperm that can be mailed to you at home. Complete details and in-depth articles available on its Web site, including the story of Baby Ryan, the first baby conceived through SPAR. Call (781) 665-0750 or (617) 623-7447, or visit

  5. Reproductive Lab Service, 233 East Erie St. Suite 309, Chicago, IL 60611. Call toll-free: (877) REPROLAB (737-7652). Visit

  6. SMART (Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS/HIV Research & Treatment), New York City, provides treatment and prevention education and support for women impacted by HIV/AIDS. Call (917) 593-8797, write or visit

  7. "Sperm Washing: Reducing the Risk of Father-to-Mother Transmission." Comprehensive article, although written in 2001. Visit

  8. Women Organized in Response to Life-Threatening Diseases (WORLD), 414 13th Street, 2nd floor, Oakland, CA 94612. Call (510) 986-0340. Visit Unfortunately, not all copies of their excellent newsletter and articles are available on-line. However, an abbreviated version of their article "Reducing the Risks of Conception: Getting Pregnant When One or Both Partners is HIV positive," is available at The article is very easy to understand and extremely detailed.

Got a comment on this article? Write to us at

This article was provided by Positively Aware. It is a part of the publication Positively Aware. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.