#HIV: Gaining victory through innovation!
Although a definite cure for HIV has not been discovered yet (despite claims from quarters in Nigeria), the fight against HIV has reached a crescendo where innovative breakthroughs have demystified the dreaded HIV, inspiring high hopes of getting to zero. These three are our unique picks as featured on our #HIV/AIDS edition of HALA Magazine.
The origin of “Sperm Washing”
The Challenge: Sero-discordance is a stack reality, and more couples with one HIV-positive partner want to have HIV-negative babies.
Thanks to the success of Anti-Retroviral Drugs, an increasing number of sero-discordant couples want to birth their own children- without passing on the HIV to their unborn child. In a M-F+ couple, fertilization could easily be achieved by direct insemination of the male sperm; and the usual PMTCT is practised. But in a M+F- couple, how can pregnancy be achieved without infecting both the woman and the unborn foetus?
The Innovative Solution: Isolate a virus particle-free sperm from the seminal fluid by sperm washing. Under the most careful screening and safety standard procedures, an advanced assisted reproductive technique called sperm washing is used to isolate the sperm of a HIV + male and mechanically used to fertilize an ovum/egg in the female HIV – partner, thereby preventing otherwise HIV transmission to mother and child through sexual intercourse.
How it Works: HIV is transmitted through the seminal fluid and not within the sperm itself; hence, the semen undergoes very careful “sperm washing” and is thoroughly screened by highly specialized molecular biology tests for any HIV virus particle before being used for the procedure.
In 1994, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center began a unique program for sero-discordant couples called the Special Program of Assisted Reproduction (SPAR) to help such peculiar HIV M+F- couples safely achieve pregnancy. Unlike cases of male factor infertility, typical assisted reproductive technique procedures have many options like in vitro-fertilization (IVF) for treating female factor infertility. Currently, this sperm washing technique is now popularly applied in treating male infertility for cases where the sperm counts are very low.