New Zealand Launches First HIV Positive Sperm Bank
The world’s first HIV positive sperm bank has been launched in New Zealand in an effort to reduce the stigma experienced by those living with the virus, the Press Association reports in an article published by The Guardian.
Sperm Positive has begun with three male donors from across New Zealand who are living with HIV but have an undetectable viral load, meaning the amount of the virus in a person’s blood is so low that it cannot be detected by standard methods.
Although this does not mean the HIV has been cured, it does mean that the treatment is working well and so the virus cannot be passed on – even through sex without a condom or childbirth.
Donor Damien Rule-Neal was diagnosed with HIV in 1999 but was confirmed undetectable after starting treatment some 18 years ago.
He said there was still a lack of education among the public in New Zealand about what an undetectable status meant, and that he had experienced stigma about living with HIV in both his work and personal life.
“I have many friends who are also living with HIV who’ve gone on to have children,” Rule-Neal said.
“Being able to help others on their journey is so rewarding, but I also want to show the world that life doesn’t stop post-diagnosis and help to remove the stigma.”
The online sperm bank said it will be made clear to people looking for a donor that they have HIV but are on effective treatment and so cannot pass the virus on.
The initiative, created by the New Zealand Aids Foundation, Positive Women Inc and Body Positive, hopes to educate people in New Zealand about HIV transmission.
The online bank was launched ahead of World Aids Day 2019, on 1 December.
Original article by Press Association, The Guardian, November 26, 2019.
Photo by Christopher Thomond.