Despite all the medical progress we’ve made in sexual health over the years, there are still misconceptions when it comes to STDs, specifically HIV. So to educate folks on the virus, the world’s first HIV-positive sperm bank has opened in New Zealand.
Now before you judge, this whole initiative is honestly not as bad as it sounds and is actually for a great cause.
Called Sperm Positive (via The Guardian), this HIV-positive sperm bank was created as part of an initiative by the New Zealand Aids Foundation, Positive Women Inc and Body Positive, and already has three male donors signed up for the program, all of whom are living with HIV.
Each of the three aforementioned HIV-positive donors are living with undetectable viral load, which means the amount of the virus in their blood is so low that it can’t be detected by standard methods.
While this doesn’t mean the HIV is cured, it means antiretroviral treatments are working and the virus is at such insignificant amounts in the blood that it’s unable to be passed on, even if you do the beast with two backs with no condom or give birth to a child.
The aim of Sperm Positive is to raise awareness about HIV and to help dispel the negative stigma associated with the disease and those living with the disease. Dr. Mark Thomas, an infectious diseases doctor from Auckland University, says on the initiative’s website that “a HIV-positive sperm bank is perfectly safe.”
“An HIV patient who is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load has no virus in their blood or genital secretions, including their sperm, and can’t pass the infection to anyone else.”
One of the three donors to Sperm Positive, Damien Rule-Neal, tells Radio New Zealand that he faced bullying after revealing his HIV-positive status to his employer and hopes that this initiative will lead to greater understanding of the disease, greater awareness on how it’s possible to live long and happy lives, and educating people that it is possible to have healthy children even when diagnosed with the virus.
“We’ve got the science behind it to say that medication makes you untransmittable and that people can go on to have children, as I’ve seen a lot of my female friends that have HIV go on to have children, it shows that science and medication have given us that ability back.”
Sperm Positive won’t be operating as a traditional sperm bank or fertility clinic. Rather, if a match is agreed by all parties, the initiative will put them in touch with local fertility clinics.
There’s still a lot of work to do when it comes to dispelling all the negative stigma associated with HIV. But with celebrities like Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness and Charlie Sheen going public with their own HIV status and the launching of initiatives like Sperm Positive, it seems like things are looking bright for the future to come.