The National AIDS Trust is urging the UK Government to change a law preventing some people living with HIV from using their own gametes when accessing fertility treatment.
Current legislation allows people with HIV to use their own gametes when undergoing IVF with their partner, but donation by a person with HIV is banned. This affects female same-sex couples where one has HIV and wants to provide her egg for her partner to carry, or gay men who want to use their sperm for a surrogate pregnancy as these both count as donation and are therefore banned.
Dr Tristan Barber, consultant in HIV medicine at the Royal Free Hospital, London said: 'Starting a family through fertility treatment is completely safe for people living with HIV. HIV medication is now so effective that people on treatment cannot pass the virus on, and have babies born without HIV.
'There is no medical reason for this discriminatory law to exist. National AIDS Trust's challenge is crucial to bring justice to people who simply want to start a family like everyone else can.'
The rule remains in place despite 97 percent of people with HIV being on treatment that means they are not infectious as the virus is reduced to undetectable levels. Sperm washing procedures also remove the virus from seminal fluid to reduce the risk of transmission to the person who will become pregnant.
National Aids Trust chief executive Deborah Gold commented, 'It's cruel and homophobic. It prevents so many people living with HIV from having a family with the help of fertility treatment. There is no place for stigma and outdated science in our laws.'
HIV is classed as a disability under the Equality Act and the Trust argued the current law is therefore discriminatory against people living with HIV. The law also discriminates, they argued, against same-sex couples who are seeking fertility treatment where donation of eggs or sperm to their partner is required.
Gould continued, 'This is about equal access to fertility options, but also about challenging discrimination towards LGBT people, getting the government to listen to the science, and stamping out HIV stigma which has existed for decades.'
The Trust has started a petition calling on the government to overturn the current legislation, which has the support of many experts in the field.
A spokesperson from the Department of Health, however, commented to the Mirror that the Government's Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, do not support a change in the legislation.