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Couples whose male "half" is HIV positive, while the female partner is not can have biological children without passing on the HIV virus, according to a new meta-analysis. How? With the help of various fertility treatments including sperm washing and IUI, and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, where only one sperm is used. It had been known for some time that these treatments could greatly reduce the risk that a man would pass HIV on to his partner and their child, but the exact results were unclear. The review looked at 17 previous studies that involved a total of 1,800 couples.

Researchers from the Evandro Chagas Clinical Research Institute in Rio de Janeiro published their results in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Some of the couples underwent sperm washing and then intrauterine insemination, and procedure that has been performed to prevent HIV transmission for quite a while now, in select numbers (see sperm washing and HIV). Other couples had ICSI, an IVF procedure where a single sperm is injected into an egg. Researchers tend to see this option as the safer one, because of the fact that controlling one sperm is easier. The new meta-analysis showed that 80 to 85 percent of the couples that were examined who got pregnant (which was around half of the total) had a baby in the end. None of the mothers and babies ultimately tested positive for HIV, something that can be seen as a huge success.

While that might sound reassuring, the researchers also added that some of the washed sperm in the studies they analyzed still turned up positive for HIV two to eight sperm samples in every hundred. There was also talk of medications becoming available to stop the spread of HIV in the future. One of the researchers said: "If the mom doesn't get it, the baby's not going to get it. I think that's going to be the future of this field."

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