Deaths of HIV-Positive Men in the Context of Assisted Reproduction: Five Case Studies from a Single Center

Nakhuda, Gary S.; Pena, Joseph E.; Sauer, Mark V.

Provision of reproductive services to individuals infected with HIV-1 is gaining popular acceptance and is generally endorsed by specialists in reproductive medicine. In the situation in which the male is HIV positive and the female partner is not infected, a large body of evidence has demonstrated that the use of assisted reproductive technology is effective for achieving pregnancy, while eliminating the risk of viral transmission to the mother and fetus. No reports have documented the well-being of the HIV-infected partners subsequent to seeking fertility services. In the current report, we document the cases of five HIV-positive men who died secondary to complications of HIV infection shortly after participating in the assisted reproduction program for HIV-1–serodiscordant couples at Columbia University. Three of these couples successfully achieved pregnancy and live birth, including one set of triplets, and one case of posthumous conception; the fourth case resulted in the cryopreservation of all embryos after the sudden death of the male before the time of embryo transfer; the fifth couple failed to conceive. None of the deaths, which occurred within a few months to 2 years from initial consultation, were related to infertility treatment. The demographic and social statuses of these patients were not different from the general population of men seeking assisted reproduction in our clinic. Regarding the HIV infection status of these cases, three patients had a longer duration of infection compared to the general population of men in our cohort, and one had a significantly lower CD4 cell count. All five men had stable HIV viral loads, and were determined by their primary care providers to be clinically healthy at the time of entry into the program for assisted reproduction. The untimely deaths of these patients underscores the importance of the thoughtful consideration of the complex issues involved in family planning for these individuals, including advanced directives for the use of cryopreserved gametes and embryos, and the social, emotional, and practical issues for the children and surviving partners subsequent to the death of the HIV-positive parent.


Also Published In

AIDS Patient Care and STDs

More About This Work

Academic Units
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Published Here
August 20, 2012