The investigators propose to treat couples who wish to have a child in which the man is HIV-positive and the woman is HIV-negative. The investigators call these couples HIV-discordant. On the average, an HIV-positive man, who does not participate in high-risk activities, will transmit HIV to a female partner one in every one thousand acts of intercourse without a condom. To reduce transmission of HIV, HIV-discordant couples are counseled to avoid intercourse altogether, or to use condoms during every act of intercourse. In order to have a child, these patients can use donor insemination. If they wish to have a natural child of the infected man, they can use a combination of medication of the man to reduce the amount of virus in his semen, and condom use except at the time of ovulation when the woman produces an egg. This reduces the chance of infecting the woman, but studies have shown that about 4% of women will be infected with HIV using this approach. Alternatively, they can use vitro fertilization (IVF) with intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in which eggs are collected from the woman after hormone-stimulation and are fertilized in the laboratory by injecting a single washed sperm from her husband into each egg. The resulting embryos can be transferred to the wife's uterus and/or frozen for later use. These procedures are believed to minimize the risk of HIV transmission (although the number of cases is low), but IVF-ICSI is very expensive and are not an option for everyone. A simpler method used for over 15 years in Europe is to collect the man's semen, wash the sperm in the laboratory, and test the sperm sample for HIV before placing it in the woman's uterus (intrauterine insemination; IUI). Although the risk of HIV transmission to the woman is presumably not zero with this method, over 4000 inseminations reported have not resulted in infection of any female patients or resulting children.
Other: Sperm washing and testing for HIV contamination
Procedure: Intrauterine Insemination
This study will enroll couples who wish to have a child in which the man is HIV-seropositive and the woman is HIV-seronegative. The couple will be counseled about their reproductive options, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) donor insemination and adoption. The male patient will be using appropriate therapy to reduce the virus in his semen. Semen will undergo specialized washing to reduce viral contamination of sperm. The sperm are first separated from leukocytes and other seminal constituents by centrifugation over a stepwise gradient. Motile sperm will be separated from the resulting pellet by a swim-up step in which washed sperm are overlaid with fresh medium into which sperm migrate. The final sperm suspension will be stored while testing for HIV is performed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Specimens found negative for HIV will then be used for IUI (review: Gilling-Smith et al, 2006; Bujan et al 2007). There is presumably some risk of HIV transmission to the woman and resulting child with this approach; however, over 4000 inseminations reported in Europe over the last 15 years have not resulted in infection of any female patient or resulting child. The woman will be followed for a year after the final IUI to assess seroconversion. If a child is born, he or she will be tested for HIV at 3 months of age.