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How to get pregnant when one partner is infected with HIV

 Photo: Courtesy

"The fear of staying childless in a discordant relationship is slowly ebbing away thanks to advanced research," says Joel Odondi, a counselling psychologist.

Option 1

The infected spouse consistently takes anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) up to the time when the viral load is low, and they can be allowed by the medic to have unprotected sex for the purpose of conception.

"Anybody who takes ARVs for say six months consecutively will have a viral suppression, meaning that the virus count in the blood is so low that it cannot be detected by viral load testing. This means that the infected one is less likely to infect the other, and unprotected sex can be allowed after the test," clarifies Odondi.

As a rule, the couple should be using protection all along, but after doing the viral load test, they can be allowed to have unprotected sex.

"We help them find out which days the wife could be fertile enough to get pregnant when they have unprotected sex. The couple is also taken through safer sexual procedures," he says.

Option 2

This is used when the infected partner doesn't want to take drugs. The uninfected partner is advised to take measures such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for protection.

"The PrEP is an intervention measure regarding infection of HIV virus, and the person takes one pill a day for at least seven days prior to the time you will be having intercourse," says Odondi.

However one should not take PrEP for life, but only for as long as you think you are at the risk of contracting HIV.

Option 3

This option works for a couple where the man is the infected one. "This is a rather costly procedure which involves separating sperm cells from the semen. The HIV virus only thrives in semen, the medium the sperm cells use to get to the ovum (female egg) so as to fertilize it. The man is given a special condom to use after which what is collected is taken to the laboratory for separation," Odondi explains.

The 'clean' sperm cells that are later used to fertilize the HIV positive partner.

Option 4

This happens where the woman is HIV positive. The procedure carried out is called vaginal insemination.

Here, the couple will have intercourse using a special condom that they will be given at the health facility. After that, them will be given a special syringe once again which will be used in injecting the semen into the vagina.


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