Sperm Washing

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A laboratory procedure that involves a clinical procedure of ‘washing’ semen from a HIV-positive male to separate the sperm from the fluid part of the semen. Because the seminal fluid contains the highest concentration of HIV, the ‘washed’ sperm should not contain any HIV. Sperm washing can be considered as a reproductive option for an HIV discordant couples in which the male is the HIV-infected partner. Because sperm washing has not been proven completely effective, couples using the procedure should be counselled regarding the potential risks for transmission of HIV. It is worth noting that this is an older procedure (and is expensive through IVF fertility programs). Modern evidence suggests that it might be possible – along with appropriate medical and clinical guidance – for HIV sero-discordant heterosexual couples to conceive a child naturally in the presence of undetectable fully suppressed viral load. This option requires careful family planning consideration and medical/clinical guidance.