I Have HIV. Can I Have Children and Keep My Partner Safer?
Hi, IÕm Dr. Becky Kuhn, a physician who specializes in HIV/AIDS. Welcome to ÒIf IÕm HIV Positive, Can I Have Children Who are Born Without HIV and Keep My Partner Safer?Ó This video will explain how HIV positive people can have children, reduce or eliminate the risk that their partner will contract HIV, and minimize the risk that the child will contract HIV.
Reasons for HIV Positive People to Avoid Unprotected Sex
If an HIV positive person has unprotected sex, it is possible that an HIV negative partner will contract HIV as a result. Even if both partners are already HIV positive, having unprotected sex could place each one at risk of contracting each otherÕs strain of HIV. When a person who already has HIV is reinfected with a new strain of HIV, this problem is called superinfection and though it is rare, is possible nonetheless. In superinfection, it is possible that a person acquires a strain that is resistant to their medications, putting them at risk of failing their current regimen.
Because of these risks, an HIV positive person should avoid having unprotected sex regardless of whether their partner is HIV negative or HIV positive. People sometimes think this means that an HIV positive person canÕt have children without putting their partner and the infant at risk. Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, this is no longer the case. ItÕs now possible for an HIV positive person to have a child without putting their partner at risk of contracting HIV and to minimize the risk that the child will contract HIV during pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy.
If YouÕre an HIV Positive Man
How can an HIV positive man have a child while minimizing the risk to their partner? The man provides a semen sample to his doctor. A technique called sperm washing is used to ensure that any HIV in the seminal fluid around the sperm is removed. An egg is removed from the woman, fertilized by the washed sperm outside the body via in vitro fertilization, and the fertilized egg is placed into her uterus. It may not happen on the first try, and that is why it is important to work closely with your doctor.
If YouÕre an HIV Positive Woman
If a woman is HIV positive, her partner can provide a sperm sample which is then placed into her body. This makes it possible for the man to impregnate the woman without having unprotected sex that might expose him to the risk of contracting HIV.
The woman can minimize the risk that the infant will contract HIV from her by working with her doctor to follow the latest instructions for minimizing the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Watch our other videos ÒPreventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV in Developed CountriesÓ and ÒPreventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV in the Developing CountriesÓ for more details about how to protect the infant. Techniques include administering antiretroviral medications to the mother during pregnancy and labor, administering ARVs to the infant after birth, and feeding the infant using formula instead of breastfeeding.
No matter who you are, you are a valuable individual. If you are HIV positive, work with your doctor to keep yourself healthy. If you follow your doctorÕs instructions, you may be able to have a full, healthy life, including having children who are HIV negative. This is Dr. Becky Kuhn.
Script by Becky Kuhn, M.D. of Global Lifeworks and Eric Krock of AIDSvideos.org.
This script was reviewed for accuracy and approved by Becky Kuhn, M.D. on March 23, 2008.