“HIV Fertility Rights” : Those With HIV Now Allowed To Donate Sperm, Eggs In The United Kingdom

Amy Hamm

People with HIV in the UK can now legally donate their eggs or sperm to family, friends, and known recipients who provide consent in a move that is being heralded as a step towards “HIV fertility rights.”

The law only applies to persons with what is known as “non-transmissible” HIV, which means that their viral load has been measured low enough to prevent HIV transmission to the recipient. Individuals must also have been on antiretroviral treatment for at least six months prior to the donation. The change will amend the UK’s 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which previously only allowed for HIV positive males to donate sperm to their female partners.

The change will enable lesbian couples where one or both partners are HIV positive to engage in “reciprocal IVF,” also known as “shared motherhood.” It involves taking the egg of one woman, fertilizing it with donor sperm, and then implanting the resulting embryo into the second woman. The new law will also ostensibly enable HIV positive gay males to father children via surrogacy agreements with women who consent to using their sperm. 

The UK’s fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA), welcomed the new legislation in a statement this week.

“Fertility treatment is helping more people than ever to create their family, and everyone undergoing fertility treatment should be treated fairly. This will save time and money for female same sex couples having reciprocal IVF,” HFEA chair, Julia Chain, wrote.

“For known donation from individuals with undetectable HIV, we anticipate that the first clinics will be able to start offering this treatment around three months following a change in the law,” she continued. “If the proposals are accepted, the definition of ‘partner donation’ will change to allow couples undergoing reciprocal IVF to undergo the same screening as heterosexual couples.”

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), HIV positive mothers who are taking antiretroviral drugs have a less than two percent risk of vertical transmission to their infants during caesarean birth or breastfeeding. It is recommended that HIV positive women do not breastfeed, and avoid vaginal birth, to reduce the risk. 

National AIDS Trust, a UK charity group, has hailed the change as “equal HIV fertility rights” for LGBT+ people.

Amidst the celebratory announcements, critics of surrogacy are expressing anger.

“Having children is NOT a right. The entitlement of you people is astounding. Trafficking in humans, be they embryos or actual birthed babies is a disgusting and dehumanizing practice—especially thru the use of harvested eggs and surrogacy,” one X (formerly Twitter) user posted.

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