New Delhi: AIDS, a well known fatal disease can have serious repercussions on fertility as well. According to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO), the transmission rates of HIV virus from mother to the offspring range from 15% to 45%.
This rate can be reduced to below five percent with effective treatment during the cycle of pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding. These interventions primarily involve antiretroviral treatment. "Prior to the initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the prospect of parenthood raised a number of issues for people with HIV. This included a high risk of transmission to a partner and to the infant as well. A woman with HIV may suffer from serious PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease) as the immune system is weakened. So, it's better to prevent AIDS rather than treatment for fertility," says Dr. Priti Gupta, First Step IVF Clinic.
HIV-positive women are more likely to have an anovulatory cycle and amenorrhea, or a complete absence of a menstrual cycle. In addition, factors that may result in infertility in HIV-infected women include stress, weakened immune systems, weight loss, and the presence of various sexually transmitted diseases.
For women who avoid undergoing antiretroviral therapy, complications with pregnancy may occur more often. With the development of HAART, a growing number of HIV-positive women can opt to have safe vaginal deliveries. Though vaginal delivery is recommended only if an HIV-positive pregnant woman has been receiving proper prenatal care and the viral load is less than 1,000 copies per ml at 36 weeks of pregnancy.
Sperm function also gets affected by HIV. Inflammation of the testicles and production of insufficient testosterone levels might occur in HIV infected men. Such people also experience decreased sex drive and erectile or ejaculatory dysfunction.
Assisted reproduction options can serve as a blessing for people facing fertility related issues and can be a safe choice for HIV serodiscordant couples (a couple in which one partner is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative). Three most common assisted reproduction techniques are intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection. All these techniques have delivered successful results as per research.