The UK government has committed to changing laws which prevent same-sex couples affected by HIV from accessing fertility treatment.
Changes to the current laws would mean that HIV-positive people with an undetectable HIV viral load would be able to access IVF treatment with a same-sex partner, and also donate sperm and eggs to known recipients or for use in surrogacy.
Additionally, the Government has announced plans to remove the requirement for lesbian couples undergoing reciprocal IVF to have additional screening tests (see BioNews 1213). People living with HIV are already able to use their own gametes in IVF with a partner 'in an intimate heterosexual relationship'. However, this is not an option for same-sex couples, those wishing to donate to friends or family, or those who need a surrogate to carry the pregnancy.
The Minister for Women, Maria Caulfield MP, announced the intended changes to the law during a debate in Parliament about IVF provision, saying: 'I am pleased to announce that, following the advice of the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues, and Organs, the Government will be introducing secondary legislation to allow the donation of gametes by people with HIV who have an undetectable viral load'.
As the current law discriminates against those living with HIV, the National AIDS Trust has campaigned for the change for several years, encouraging hundreds of people to sign a petition, write to their MPs and march at London Pride in support of the campaign (see BioNews 1155).
Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust, commented: 'After years of campaigning on this issue, this morning we heard the Government finally commit in Parliament to change the discriminatory law that stops many LGBT people living with HIV from starting a family.' She said the move 'follows the science', as it is known that individuals with an undetectable HIV viral load have no risk of transmitting the disease.
The HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust also welcomed the change to the law, with the charity's head of policy Debbie Laycock saying: 'There's no reason for people living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load to be denied the same fertility treatment as everyone else and it's right the law reflects that.' She added that she hoped the changes would be implemented quickly.
Caulfield advised that the changes would be introduced using secondary legislation, but did not provide a date for when the changes would be enacted.