California Senate Committee approves bill that would allow HIV-positive men to have sperm washed

The California Senate Health Committee on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve a bill (SB 443) that would allow HIV-positive men to have their sperm washed and used for fertility treatments, including artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, under certain guidelines, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/29).

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 of 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.

A survey conducted by Cohan among 67 fertility centers in the state found that 80% of the centers would provide services to couples with an HIV-positive man if the law were changed.

Migden said, "It's in society's interest to give these couples a safe method of reproduction," adding, "A clean procedure is available.

Making it available in California is a positive step the government can take to produce healthy children" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/28).


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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