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The world’s first-ever HIV positive sperm bank has launched in New Zealand. Called Sperm Positive, the bank carries sperm from men who have HIV but have an undetectable viral load.
For those who think this is a bad idea or at the very least a risky one, the project's website explains that it is perfectly safe.
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"An HIV positive sperm bank is perfectly safe," said Dr. Mark Thomas, an infectious disease physician at the University of Auckland, on the project’s website. "An HIV patient who is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load has no virus in their blood or genital secretions, including their sperm, and can’t pass the infection to anyone else."
The bank is an initiative by the New Zealand Aids Foundation, Positive Women Inc, and Body Positive. It is meant to dispell the stigma that surrounds people living with HIV and offer them the same opportunities as everyone else.
“I know a lot of men living with HIV who would make great fathers,” said Thomas. “I think an HIV positive sperm bank is a great idea because it opens it up to everyone, including people with HIV, the joys of being a parent."
The sperm bank makes it clear that the donors do have HIV. However, it also explains that they have an undetectable viral load that cannot be transmitted thanks to ongoing treatment.
"They can give you their eyes, their hair, their cheeky laugh. But they can’t give you HIV," said the bank's website.
According to UNAIDS, there were approximately 37.9 million people across the globe with HIV in 2018 while an estimated 1.7 million became newly infected in the same year.