Many people living with HIV have doubts about starting a family because they fear that their children may be born with HIV. While this concern was justified years ago, it is no longer today as there are treatment options available to avoid passing the virus on to your child. Working with your HIV specialist is the key in having a negative family and many people have done so and are now parents of children who are HIV negative.
If you are a man living with HIV and your partner is negative, there is a technique called sperm washing; a process in which HIV in the man’s sperm is removed before being inserted into the woman. This process ensures that HIV is not transmitted to the woman or the child. If you are a woman living with HIV, being on treatment throughout pregnancy and maintaining an undetectable viral load will increase your chance of having a healthy child. Even if not on treatment during pregnancy, a woman can still receive treatment during labor and delivery to protect the baby.
Newer treatments also include pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) which is a prevention option for HIV-negative people that can greatly reduce your chances of contracting HIV from an individual living with HIV.
My wife and I are both living with HIV and have a son who was born negative and as I mentioned previously, many others have had negative children despite their HIV status including a friend of mine and activist Andrew Pulsipher. Andrew is living with HIV but his wife and children are all negative. He shared his story to show others that it is possible to have a family even if HIV positive and to reduce the stigma associated with HIV which unfortunately is still an ongoing issue 30 years since the start of the epidemic.
Read more about Andrew’s story on the Huffington post:
HIV-Positive Father Shares Photo With His HIV-Negative Family To Break Down The Stigma
I know HIV has a negative stigma, but that it doesn’t have to and I want to help change that. It is a treatable disease and you can live a normal life with it. I am proof of that. I want to educate people so that we can get past the “HOW you got the disease” to “HOW you are living your life with it? — Andrew Pulsipher
Living with HIV today is nothing like it used to be in the early years; it’s a manageable condition with proper care and treatment and having a negative family can be a reality for many. Choosing to be in a relationship with a person living with HIV is also a reality. With the proper education and with prevention methods such as PrEP, the possibility of contracting HIV from your partner is dramatically decreased, and even more so if your partner is on treatment and maintains an undetectable viral load.