Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Are You Open to Being a Surrogate for an HIV Positive Intended Parent?

When I applied to be a Surrogate back in 2007, I remember being asked if I would be open to carrying for an HIV-positive couple.  It was an interesting thought and  I'm sure, I seemed like the perfect candidate . . . 

. . . educated (more specifically a B.S. in Health Science, a minor in Human Sexuality and M.A. in Education, with a multicultural emphasis.  Hell! Even my thesis had a LGBT theme).

 . . . over a decade of experience teaching students about HIV/AIDS

. . . an open mind and open heart

* Should I mention my 7th grade Science Fair win in 1986-87 that was on what? Yep AIDS!

I would be perfect . . . OR SO I/THEY THOUGHT . . . .

You see, I don't really remember too much about the conversation, except I must have not been entirely open to the idea, or maybe I assumed my spouse (at the time) wouldn't be.  I didn't have much information, I just remember hanging up the phone with the thought that they couldn't guarantee I'd walk away from my journey HIV-negative, so my answer was No.  (I do remember feeling guilty saying no, like I was letting a loving couple down but that I couldn't put my own health at risk, I had three of my own children, after all).   

Obviously, I either didn't listen well or all the information wasn't shared with me.  Either way, I went on to three different HIV-negative Surrogacy journeys.  It wasn't until a close Surrogate friend asked my opinion about her carrying for an HIV-positive couple, that I finally got all the information I would have needed to make my own answer a resounding YES.

When Growing Generations asked her about carrying for HIV-positive IPs, they talked with her on the phone, sent her information, a link to a video and she even had a phone consult with a doctor who was up to date about this type of assisted reproduction.  When she shared with me all the information, and other Surrogate friends shared their stories of helping HIV-positive IPs, I couldn't help but feel stupid.  

Why didn't I know all this?  

Why didn't I take the time?

One of the biggest concerns of prospective Gestational Surrogates open to learning more about HART is,  
"Will I get infected with HIV"?

As it turns out, in ALL the cases of assisted reproduction using sperm from an HIV-positive person (more than 4,000 cases) . . .  are you ready for this???   NO case of transmission to the carrier of the baby (Mother or Gestational Carrier) has EVER occurred.

Another concern is the life-span of the IPs.

I have since learned that bringing a child into the loving home of a couple or individual with HIV is essentially no different than bringing a child into any loving home. HIV-positive IPs in this program go through, "an extensive health screening process before being admitted to the program.  This is designed to ensure that their HIV viral load is undetectable and that their health status is acceptable."  As a lot of people know, HIV is now a long-term manageable disease with medications that are able to completely control the virus for a lifetime.  National studies . . . "now calculate the life expectancy of those with and without HIV to be nearly identical."

I really wish I would have been more proactive about researching the possibility about carrying for HIV-positive IPs.  Hindsight is 20/20, right? 

I can't go back in time and change that, but what I CAN DO is share this up to date information with other possible Surrogates.

For more information:


Madgew said...

Interesting. I am assuming you are talking about men as most women can carry a baby with HIV. Now whether the baby gets it or converts is another story. You made the best choice with the best information at the time. I would not have taken the chance being a mom myself. What is the % of the babies born to HIV parents that are HIV positive?

Morgan said...

Bedford Labs runs a SPAR program (I'm assuming) similar to HART. Thank you for sharing this information with other surrogates and potentials! They need all the information possible!

Toni Adwell said...

My spouse was not comfortable with it, though I was. I know from experience that even delivering to healthy parents is not a guarantee that their children will grow up with their parent(s) there. The heart attack that took my IF away from his two little girls, (one a couple months old and the other under two; both delivered for them by me), was a complete surprise to everyone. He was 46. I believe this time around I'll speak with my husband more about carrying for an HIV positive parent and put a yes in that column.