The world’s first HIV positive sperm bank has now opened in an effort to reduce the stigma surrounding the virus and those who carry it.
The sperm bank in Auckland, New Zealand, called Sperm Positive was launched by three donor men carrying a strain of the virus which is undetectable in conventional tests–as the amount in the blood of the patients is too low to be detected.
Due to the amount of the virus carried in the blood being so low, according to Yahoo, the virus cannot be passed on due to effective treatment.
The most common forms of transmission tend to be unprotected sex, childbirth, or unsanitary sharing of drug paraphernalia such as needles.
One of the three donors, Damien Rule-Neal, was diagnosed with HIV in 1999 but has been confirmed undetectable after starting treatment around 18 years ago.
Damien signaled a lack in public education surrounding the virus and the continued stigma attached to the nature of the disease and its treatment.
He went onto say:
“I have many friends who are also living with HIV who’ve gone on to have children,” he said.
“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.”
According to DW:
“An HIV-positive sperm bank is perfectly safe,” infectious diseases physician and Auckland University professor Mark Thomas said in a statement supporting the launch of the sperm bank, which was named Sperm Positive.
“When a person is consistently taking effective treatment for their HIV infection, the amount of the HIV virus in their blood and sexual fluids is almost always reduced to an undetectable amount,” he added.
HIV issues broke headlines in 2017 after its knowing transmission was downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor in California.
In relation to the new sperm bank, some who remain HIV positive have heralded the inauguration of the bank as an opportunity to create life in the face of stigma, and even to feel included as their HIV status no longer tars their public image.