A new online sperm clinic in New Zealand has launched, specialising only in HIV positive donors
The move is designed to reduce the stigma that people living with the virus face on a daily basis, in many aspects of their lives.
The clinic, called Sperm Positive, has opened with the sperm of three male donors, all of whom live in New Zealand. Each of the men are currently living with HIV, however, they have undetectable viral loads.
An undetectable viral load means that the amount of the HIV virus in a person’s bloodstream is incredibly low, so much so that it cannot be detected during standard tests. It is important to note that this does not mean that the person is ‘cured’ of HIV. That said, it does mean that they cannot transmit the virus to anyone else, even through exposure to blood, unprotected sex, or childbirth.
The sperm bank was developed by the New Zealand Aids Foundation, Positive Women Inc., and the Body Positive Charity
They hope to educate Kiwis about the truths of HIV transmission.
Dr Mark Thomas, an Auckland University associate professor and infectious diseases specialist, said: “I’m glad to say that in this time there have been great changes in public understanding of HIV, but many people living with HIV still suffer from stigma. Stigma can lead to inconsistent taking of medicines, and result in much less effective treatment of HIV, and risk of transmitting HIV.”
One of the donors, Damien Rule-Neal, has come forward as the face of the clinic
He was first diagnosed with HIV in 1999. He has now been medically confirmed as having an undetectable ‘viral load’. He does worry that there is still a massive lack of education amongst the general public in New Zealand and beyond. He has faced stigma and prejudice from people in both his personal life and at work.
“I have many friends who are also living with HIV who have gone on to have children. Being able to help others on their journey is so rewarding, but I also want to show the world that life doesn’t stop post-diagnosis and help to remove the stigma.”
The Sperm Positive bank is clear with all of those seeking sperm that it comes from an HIV positive donor who is on effective treatment and cannot transmit the virus.
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