Hundreds of HIV-Negative Children Born Using IVF to Couples With at Least One HIV-Positive Partner, Researcher Says
Five hundred HIV-negative children have been born with the assistance of in vitro fertilization over the past 14 years to European couples in which at least one partner has HIV, Reuters Health reports. At the XIV International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain, Dr. Enrico Semprini of the University of Milan said that doctors have conducted 5,000 cycles of IVF over the last 14 years involving couples in which at least one partner has HIV. During that time, there has not been a case of an HIV-positive infant being born to a couple where only the man had HIV. In cases where the female partner was HIV-positive, infants had a 0% to 2% chance of becoming infected if the woman received "optimal" antiretroviral therapy and the infant was delivered by Caesarean section, Semprini said. Several laboratory techniques can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to a woman or infant through infected sperm, while antiretroviral therapy, C-section delivery and avoiding breast feeding can decrease the odds of vertical HIV transmission in HIV-positive women. No method is completely effective, Reuters Health reports. Anne Duerr, a reproductive health expert at the CDC, said the agency has not seen enough data to support recommending IVF as an option for HIV-positive people who wish to conceive a child. However, she said that once the CDC and other American medical groups see complete follow-up data, they will "probably express a favorable opinion" of the practice. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine states that HIV-positive patients should not be denied fertility treatment based on their HIV status, but adds that doctors should advise patients seeking assistance that "the absolute safest courses to consider are adoption, child-free living or (if the male is HIV-positive), donor sperm" (Reuters Health, 7/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.