In an attempt to reduce the ostracism experienced by people living with the virus, the very first HIV-positive sperm bank in the world has opened.
Sperm Positive started with three male donors living with HIV across New Zealand, although they have an undetectable viral load, meaning that the amount of virus in an individual’s blood is so low that it can not be detected using standard methods.
While this does not mean that the virus has been cured, it suggests that the treatment works well and that the HIV can not be passed on, even through birth or sex without a condom.
A donor Damien Rule-Neal, was diagnosed with the virus in 1999 but was found undetectable about 18 years ago after starting treatment.
He said there’s still a lack of education among the New Zealand community about what an undetectable status entails and that he’s been stigmatized for living with HIV in both his personal life and work. “I have many friends who are also living with HIV who’ve gone on to have children,”
He added. “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 online sperm bank said that it will be made transparent to people seeking a donor that they have the incurable virus but are on efficient treatment and thereby can’t pass the virus on.
Dr. Mark Thomas, doctor in infectious diseases, 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 drug use, resulting in far less effective HIV treatment, and risk of HIV transmission. Fear of stigma and discrimination can prevent people at risk from being tested, and access to treatment and support for those living with HIV.”


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