CT Fertility has already worked successfully with over 25 HIV positive dads who as a result have achieved their goal of healthy parenthood.
This could not be possible without the Special Program of Assisted Reproduction (SPAR) program of the Bedford Research Foundation, which was founded in 1996 by Dr. Ann Kiessling. The Foundation’s primary goals are to further research related to HIV and to support a clinical laboratory that could develop safe and effective ways to test and store sperm from men infected with HIV.
What is SPAR technology?
SPAR technology utilizes polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques to detect the HIV virus in semen specimens from men infected with HIV. If the semen is found to be free of virus, the sperm it contains is then frozen and stored for later use.
SPAR focuses on testing the semen rather than the blood because it has been shown that HIV blood testing is not a reliable predictor of viral burden in semen. In fact, data collected by Bedford scientists in 2006 revealed that the semen specimens of 24% of men whose blood had tested negative for the HIV virus still revealed the presence of the HIV virus.
|Dr. Doyle on a panel about HIV+ parenting|
What is the process?
If you work with CT Fertility and enter the SPAR program, a thorough evaluation of your HIV history, duration of disease, health status and other relevant factors will first be made. Then you will be asked to produce at least two semen samples which will be tested for HIV using PCR assay that detects both free virus particles in seminal plasma as well as cells that are actually infected with HIV. The sperm extracted from those semen samples that are deemed to be absent of virus will be washed, frozen and shipped to CT Fertility for later use using the standard IVF techniques we use to create embryos that will then be transferred into your surrogate.
What is the risk to the surrogate mother or the baby?
Of course extensive counseling of the intended surrogate (and her partner or spouse) will have been carried out to ensure her complete understanding and acceptance of every aspect of her care.
Using this technology, there have been zero cases of infection in the several hundred successful births (according to data from Bedford as recent as August 2012). In fact, the risk of HIV infection to the surrogate mother or to the baby is less than it would be if a pregnancy had been attempted by using unprotected sex or sperm from untested specimens.
Lastly, it is also important to remember that SPAR is designed as a clinical trial and as an added safety measure, the current protocol calls for the surrogate to be tested for HIV-antibody at 3 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months following each and every pregnancy attempt.
If you would like to learn more please contact us now to arrange a free complementary informational consultation in person or through Skype.