Mr and Mrs X’s lives were thrown out of gear when they were diagnosed as retroviral positive during routine investigations. Their dreams of having a biological child were smashed into pieces as few doctors had advised them to go either for a sperm donor or adoption. The couple got new hope and aspiration when they visited Oasis Fertility and got to know about the possibility of having their own child through advanced fertility treatments and ended up having their biological child. This emphasizes the importance of enabling HIV patients to have access to advanced fertility treatments and antiretroviral therapies that can help in reducing the risk of transmission of HIV to the partner and the offspring. AIDS need not deter a couple from becoming parents. Spreading awareness is the key.
HIV affects women physically, biologically, and psychologically and it may result in weight loss, protracted anovulation, and also irregularities in the menstrual cycle. It is also seen that HIV-positive women have a higher risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal factor infertility, etc.
Stress due to shame and fear regarding conception and the health of the child also affects the fertility potential of these women. They tend to have a higher risk of miscarriage as well. But all these need not put a full stop to one’s dream of having a family.
According to WHO, HIV-positive men develop Hypogonadism, and have reduced sperm concentration, sperm count, and motility. Also, they tend to experience erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, oligospermia, and impotence.
In a couple, only when the male partner is infected with HIV, he is treated with antiretroviral drugs that result in the reduction of serum and semen viral loads. Only when the viral load is undetectable in the male partner, ART treatments are initiated in the couple. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) given to a female partner reduces the risk of transmission to the female partner. Exclusive protocols like the double wash of seminal plasma, IUI, and IVF with ICSI reduce the risk of seroconversion in the case of the wife and the child.
Though several treatment possibilities are available that can gift the happiness of having a biological child to HIV couples, lack of awareness has made many hopeless and unhappy.
Pre-conception counseling is crucial in the case of HIV couples because it helps them in understanding the risks, precautionary measures, and treatment options before planning to have a family.
There is hope! Don’t give up your parenthood dream. Fight AIDS and achieve parenthood as well!
By: Dr Krishna Chaitanya, Scientific Head and Clinical Embryologist, Oasis Fertility