HIV-Positive British Couples Seeking Fertility Assistance Face Discrimination at IVF Clinics, Report Says
HIV-positive people seeking fertility assistance at clinics in Great Britain are unlikely to get treatment because of their HIV status, according to a report issued on Saturday by the Terrence Higgins Trust, BBC News reports. Nearly 75% of the responding 57 clinics have a policy on fertility assistance for HIV-positive patients, but 61% of clinics had not seen a prospective client with HIV in the previous 12 months. However, clinics that had seen people with HIV reported a higher chance of offering fertility assistance to couples where only the man was HIV-positive because of the availability of "sperm-washing" techniques that allow doctors to clear sperm of the virus. Clinics were unlikely to offer treatment to couples where only the woman or both partners were infected. "Not all patients infected with HIV will be suitable for infertility treatment," but clinics should have a "less restrictive attitude" toward patients with HIV, study author Ade Apoola, a specialist registrar at Whittall Street Clinic in Birmingham, said, likening the current system to a "lottery" due to its lack of established guidelines. Mark Graver of the Terrence Higgins Trust said his group was unsure why clinics were turning away people with HIV, adding that it was "certainly ... not on medical grounds." He noted that although there is a chance that infected women can pass the virus on to their infants, the risk is very low with proper monitoring and treatment. Seventy-five pregnant women last year were diagnosed with HIV in Great Britain and none gave birth to an infected infant because of medical intervention, he said. The trust, which released the report in recognition of World AIDS Day, called on the government to provide additional training on HIV risks to medical personnel (BBC News, 12/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.