With the help of sperm washing and artificial insemination, the risk of transmitting HIV through sperm is greatly reduced. Several groups of men can benefit from sperm washing the procedure, which separates healthy sperm from seminal fluids and unhealthy sperm, is used by men with a low sperm count, slow swimmers, or abnormal sperm shapes as well as by those who are HIV positive. Sperm washing as a means to eliminate the HIV virus from semen was first tried in Milan, and has since gained in popularity. Unfortunately, sperm washing for HIV positive men is not available at very many fertility clinics. Questions also have to be raised about the safety of this procedure.
A study was conducted into HIV transmission rates from sperm washing in Italy in 2005. As many as 567 couples where the male partner was HIV+ took part in the study, and a little over two thirds got pregnant through various artificial fertility techniques including IVF, ICSI and IUI after undergoing sperm washing. Among the participants, there were no cases of transmission from husband to wife, or from mother to child as a result. But that does not guarantee that HIV transmission cannot occur after sperm washing and that the procedure is safe. If you are considering this option, carefully weighing the potential risks against your wish to become parents is obviously advisable. Also see HIV testing and pregnancy.