Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Don't Call Me 'Ma' in Front of My Mother

The following story from POZ magazine is pretty cool. I first heard reports about this in the same magazine maybe a year ago, when they were studying the procedure in Japanese labs or something.

Having felt the warm stirrings of a nascent paternal instinct in recent years (or is that just more gas from the Norvir?), I find this encouraging news.

I'm not sure how likely my own personal path to fatherhood might ever be (to paraphrase the words of a friend from not so, so long ago, "It would be good if you could take care of yourself first..."). Yeah, it might be nice to have a partner—or maybe even a pet—before having a child. Then, maybe a cooperative person of the female persuasion to perform the minor function of gestation. However, it's nice to see that even for those who can't afford to kick down $15K+ for in-vitro fertilization, there's the old-fashioned, bargain basement turkey baster "AI". Surely anyone can come up with the $700 for that, right?

Get ready, world: I may yet procreate.

From Here to Paternity
by Lucile Scott

More and more positive men want children—and are finding that they can make them using their own genetic goods

HIV-positive mothers have a less than2% chance of infecting babies during childbirth if they’re taking HIV meds. What about positive men? Can they produce negative babies too?

After Larry Madeiros responded well to HAART in 1996 and it looked like he might live a long, healthy life, he and his HIV-negative wife, Carol, decided to have children. Having convinced a physician to take their case, the couple became one of the first in the U.S. to try a procedure called sperm washing. It removes HIV from a semen sample, leaving almost no risk of infecting mother or child.

In May 1998, the Madeiroses welcomed Ashley, who was born HIV negative. “It gave us a new sense of hope,” says Carol. A year later brother Taylor, also negative, was born. Since then, more than 3,800 negative babies have been conceived in the U.S. using the method.

As of 2007, there are no known cases of a woman having been infected through washed sperm. “I had a better chance of being hit by a bus [than getting infected with HIV],” says Carol of the procedure. However, many fertility clinics still won’t work with positive men, fearing a lawsuit should something go awry. Those that do rarely advertise, fearing they may scare away negative patrons. The Centers for Disease Control says it needs more safety evidence before endorsing the procedure. Delaware and California, meanwhile, ban positive men from donating sperm, period (though at press time, the California legislature was considering a bill that would let positive prospective dads hand over their sperm to a lab for washing).

“What patients are trying to do is complicated and we go through all the complications with them,” says Ann Kiessling, Phd, founder of the Bedford Research Foundation, in Somerville, Massachusetts. The group helps positive and discordant couples, straight and gay, get pregnant. (Even if both man and woman are positive, the man must wash the HIV from sperm to reduce the risk of reinfection.) Bedford also ships washed sperm to clinics that wouldn’t have accepted the unwashed variety from a positive person.

A sperm-washing candidate must demonstrate good parenting capacity—including good general health—before donating semen. Then the sperm, which is not believed to house HIV, is separated out. The sperm and semen are both tested. If the virus turns up, the sample is discarded and the procedure repeated. Once a negative sample is secured, the woman can use either artificial insemination, where multiple sperm are placed in the uterus using a cervical cup and tube, or injection (both of which cost $300 to $700), or in vitro fertilization (IVF) to inject a single sperm directly into an egg (this costs up to $15,000). Most insurance companies don’t cover any of these methods. Because only one sperm is used in IVF, it involves less risk than does artificial insemination—though no women are known to have been infected either way—and often improves chances of conception. Happy Father’s Day.


BigAssBelle said...

wow! another thing i never even knew existed, sperm washing. the term itself makes me want to know all of the details about how it's accomplished. i thought the little wigglers died within 24 hours or so. is is a quick wash? how is it done, do you know?

i had a friend who had a baby with the bartender at my favorite gay bar. he died of AIDS within a year thereafter (long before the drugs were available) and the baby is well.

i hope that you get your heart's desire. being a parent is a huge commitment and one i've never wanted. i do believe love has incredible power and the love of a parent for a child can be transformative in so many ways.

if you find out the mechanics of washing sperm, do let me know. fascinating. :-)

copperred said...

I wonder what you'd look like with a toddler on your arm. I suspect you'd look even hotter. You have the right face for a parent.