As mixed-status HIV couples weigh risks, more choose to conceive the old-fashioned way

April 24, 2014 - The Washington Post.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha

When Susan Hartmann got married, she and her husband knew that they had to be careful. Given that she’s HIV-negative and he’s HIV-positive, they had to be vigilant about protected sex. But later, they decided they wanted to start a family.

After hearing about high-tech assisted reproduction techniques that could help them conceive safely, they sought advice from the perinatal HIV clinic at the University of California at San Francisco. But the doctors presented an option the couple hadn’t considered: They could do it the old-fashioned way, by having unprotected sex.

Hartmann was floored by the suggestion. “It was counter to decades of public health messaging,” she said.

She and her husband, Dan, looked at the research. Numerous studies supported the idea that her risk of infection was extremely low because his viral load was undetectable and they would be having unprotected sex only a few times, when she was ovulating.

The couple decided to go for it, and the happy result was a little girl they named Ryan. Both mother and daughter are HIV-negative. Continue reading...

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Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a friendly health care provider who is knowledgeable about HIV and pregnancy. Some health care providers simply are not aware of the wealth of information about pregnancy planning for their patients living with HIV (HIV+). Perhaps even more challenging, though, are the judgmental attitudes that many health care providers still have.

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