In a groundbreaking move, the UK government is set to abolish outdated IVF laws that have previously denied individuals with HIV access to fertility treatments and imposed additional costs on lesbian couples for pre-treatment screenings
The government unveiled two significant legal changes in the realm of IVF provision, offering renewed hope to hundreds of couples grappling with the emotional strain of fertility challenges.
Under the new laws, lesbian couples will no longer be burdened with the financial obligation of expensive pre-treatment screenings before embarking on IVF journeys. Likewise, couples with HIV will no longer be barred from pursuing IVF to fulfill their dreams of parenthood.
The Department of Health and Social Care has clarified that same-sex couples with undetectable HIV, where the viral load is too low for transmission, will be eligible to access fertility treatments.
Maria Caulfield, a health minister, voiced the aspirations of millions of couples longing for the joys of parenthood and the experience of bringing new life into the world. She recognised the heartbreaking pain experienced by many due to fertility challenges. These changes, she asserted, aim to provide support to as many people as possible in their journey towards conceiving.
In addition to granting access to fertility treatment, the new regulations will permit HIV-positive couples to donate sperm or eggs to friends or family members, further expanding the possibilities for individuals living with HIV.
Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, praised the move as one aligned with scientific advancements. She emphasised that these changes will offer the chance to become parents through fertility treatments to individuals living with HIV, transforming their lives.
Debbie Laycock, head of policy at Terrence Higgins Trust, applauded the decision to eliminate discriminatory laws concerning IVF for those with HIV, noting the profound impact it would have on families, futures, and lives. She emphasised the importance of swift implementation to realise the benefits of this change.
Currently, female same-sex couples are subjected to screenings for conditions such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or rubella, incurring costs of up to £1,000. These additional tests are not required for heterosexual couples.
The government’s decision to repeal this outdated law ensures that female same-sex couples are granted equal rights in their quest to conceive, according to a government statement.
Dr. Catherine Hill, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Fertility Network UK, welcomed the move, emphasising that it would eliminate inequalities and the financial barriers faced by female same-sex couples seeking to become parents through fertility services.
However, Robbie de Santos of LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall expressed concerns about the lack of a clear timeline for the implementation of these changes across all health bodies. He criticised the government for not taking the issues seriously enough.