5 Questions HIV-Positive Gay Men Have About Sperm Washing
First, semen is collected from the HIV positive partner. Through a separation process known as centrifugation, the sperm is removed from the seminal fluid. Since the HIV virus is carried in the seminal fluid, and not the sperm, this allows for a vastly decreased risk of HIV transmission to either the gestational carrier in a surrogacy arrangement, or the resulting child.
Sperm washing has been around for many years: in fact, the first time a child was born via sperm washing in the United States was in 1999. Read more about this breakthrough in this American Public Media article, Conceiving Ryan.
Yes, there are several different types of sperm washing. The most basic wash involves repeated centrifugation to eliminate the seminal fluid from the sample. Some men may choose to undergo more advanced forms of sperm washing that allows for the isolation of sperm with high motility rates. But the most basic procedure is all that is required for HIV positive men to prevent transmission of the virus.
In practice, sperm washing has been found to practically eliminate the risk of HIV transmission to either the gestational surrogate or the child. Though there will be no way to fully eliminate the transmission risk, research in this area is very encouraging. In fact, one study of 914 sero-discordant couples – couples in which one partner is HIV positive and one partner HIV negative – found no instances of HIV infection among the women, or the resulting children conceived following the sperm washing procedure.
There is a downside to sperm washing: It’s expensive, not often covered by insurance, and unavailable in many fertility clinics. According to Ryan Kiessling, MPM, of the Special Program of Assisted Reproduction at the Bedford Research Foundation Clinical Laboratory, HIV-positive men interested in surrogacy should budget from $8,000 to $10,000 for this procedure.
Read our article “Positively Dads” to learn more about becoming a dad as an HIV-positive gay man.
Over 2 years ago, we spoke with experienced filmmaker Carlton Smith about his documentary featuring gay dad families created through foster-adopt. It was a heartfelt project that shone a light on the number of children in foster care (roughly 400,000 as referenced at the time) who desperately needed a home. And the large population of same-sex couples, many newly married, who were interested in starting families of their own.
"Let's skip," my daughter said on our way to school the other week. She took my hand and started skipping along, pulling me forward to urge me to do the same.
Wouldn't it look, well, gay, for me to skip down the street? In public? I wasn't willingly going to make myself look like a sissy.
As part of our ongoing #GWKThenAndNow series, we talk to dads who have gone the distance and been together a great many years. Terry and Michael have been together 15 years, have two children, and live in Orlando, Florida. We find out how it began, and what they look for in a partner in life, love and fatherhood.
Johnathon and Corey, both 29, met in 2011 working for the same employer. And since their first date, they've been inseparable. Johnathon is a full-time student pursuing a degree in Human Services, and once he completes his degree, he will return to his Native American tribe to help fellow Native American families in need. Corey is a stay-at-home dad. Together they adopted 6-year-old twins, Greyson and Porter, from foster care on June 1, 2017. We caught up with the first-time dads to see how fatherhood was treating them.
The Long Island Adoptive Families support group was created by parents going through the adoption process or who had already adopted. It was a great way to help members navigate the path of adoption whether it be private domestic, international agency, domestic agency or foster care. We spoke with Chemene, one of the founders, and found out how this group is supporting local gay men interested in becoming fathers.