Can surrogacy be an option for HIV positive couples?
HIV has become one of the biggest challenges in the modern world. Although there is an extensive research being carried out at various medical laboratories worldwide, but none of them has got any major breakthrough to eradicate this deadly ailment completely. However, there has been a great development regarding prevention and control of HIV through powerful medicines and many HIV positive patients can live normal life for a longer time. There are cases where one or both partners are infected and extending family becomes a big question for such couples. Doctors strictly prohibit them from doing so because of the obvious reason. There is a very high possibility (almost 100%) of the baby getting infected from HIV by birth.
Few years back, there was no possibility of enjoying the biggest charm of the life. Adopting a child was always there as an option, but it was not a biological sibling. Raising an adopted child needs tremendous determination and unconditional love that might not be the case for every infected couple. A genetic baby would have the natural affection and pull and hence it is always preferred. The advancement in the reproductive medical science has opened so many innovative avenues for biological pregnancy for such couples. There are many cases where HIV infection in the couple is not that critical and they can live a smooth and long life with proper medication and care. Having a genetic child without the risk of transferring the risk of HIV is a real win-win situation for both, the baby and the parents.
An infertility clinic like International Fertility Centre receives many such cases every year and Dr. Rita Bakshi and her team take every case as a new challenge. The expertise and command over the subject plays a major role in achieving success for surrogacy of HIV positive parents. India has become the preferred destination for infertility, surrogacy and egg donation cases and not only domestic, but a lot of foreign national are coming to India every year to avail world class facilities in a much cheaper amount.
Challenges faced by HIV positive couples
Being HIV positive is the biggest challenge of the life. There are couple where either or both are infected by HIV. There are many challenges in front of them. Risk of life is obviously there, but modern medicines and treatment methods have increased the chances of living much healthier life for a longer time. Extending family is still a matter of concern and doctors never recommend pregnancy for them. The immune system gets weakened and there is a great risk of infection. Pregnancy is a long-term process and infections must be avoided during this period. The situation is absolutely frustrating and challenging.
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a process of carrying out the pregnancy and childbirth through some other woman than the genetic mother. It is an invention of the modern medical science and has been used successfully to make parenthood possible for such parents that otherwise unable to enjoy that due to various reasons. The option of surrogacy is suggested to a couple when the mother is incapable of bearing the pregnancy or instructed not to go for it due to problems like HIV. The parents may or may provide matured egg and sperm for the fertilization process. Infertility clinics play as mediators and coordinators in the process. Right from hiring the right surrogate, arranging legal experts for preparation and signing the contract, taking care of the medical process, getting the baby delivered and handed over it to the intended parents; infertility clinic and their experts play an important role.
How surrogacy is carried out for the HIV positive couples?
Surrogacy helps the HIV positive couple a lot and the biggest challenge of pregnancy and delivery becomes easy by this method. There is devastating difference between the normal surrogacy and the surrogacy for a couple infected from HIV. In case of normal surrogacy, the process becomes much simple once the basic tests are carried out. In case of surrogacy for HIV positive couple, the increased risk of HIV infection makes it extremely critical to monitor very closely.
There has to be absolute transparency among all the parties and the surrogate mother and the couple must establish a trust and rapport before going forward for the process.
Surrogate mother has to take specific medicines to reduce the risk of getting infected from HIV. The baby also needs to take HIV preventive medicines for the first few weeks after birth.
Doctors use a special technique of 'sperm washing' before going for artificial insemination. The sperms are taken from the male partner and disinfected for HIV in the laboratory. Doctors can choose Intra-vaginal insemination, Intra-uterine insemination or In-vitro fertilization techniques according to the need.
Surrogate mother has to undergo continuous monitoring during the pregnancy.
Points to ponder by infertility clinics
The responsibility of the infertility clinic like IFC increases tremendously in case of such type of surrogacy. The doctors need to be extremely alert and attentive towards any signs of abnormality.
The couple and surrogate mother and her family has to be on the same page while deciding for the pregnancy. There should not be any ambiguity and confusion regarding the risk factors.
Insurance coverage and financial security plays a major role in such cases and therefore it has to be planned properly.
During pregnancy and post-natal care and monitoring would ensure that there are no chances of infection even after the birth takes place. Dr. Rita Bakshi underlines its necessity and work keenly towards providing the best care at IFC.
As we understood, it is not at all a wise decision to conceive by the couple affected from HIV. There is no point in transmitting a fatal disease to the siblings. The chances of getting infected by other virus and bacteria are very high in case of such pregnancy because of the weakened immune system. Surrogacy comes as a fantastic option for such couples since the entire process of pregnancy and childbirth takes place in the body of surrogate mother. Doctors can decide whether HIV infected couple can donate the sperm and eggs for the fertilization process. In case they are unable to do the same, then donor's help can be obtained. There is absolutely no doubt that the couple has to compromise with the genetic relation with the baby, either partially or fully depending on the individual case. However, they can at least have a chance to enjoy parenthood. This all is possible due to the advance medical techniques in the modern world.
Being infected from HIV is no more a hindrance in enjoying parenthood; the modern medical science has made it possible for them!