Human immunodeficiency virus and assisted reproduction: reconsidering evidence, reframing ethics

Fertil Steril. 2001 May;75(5):843-58. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(01)01700-9.


Objective: To review the advances in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and revisit the medical, ethical, and legal issues surrounding infertility management in HIV-infected couples.

Design: Analytic review.

Results(s): HIV infection continues to be a serious public health and reproductive issue. However, present policies which allow for the categorical exclusion of HIV-infected individuals from infertility services should be reconsidered in light of improvements in the prognosis of infected individuals and a dramatic decrease in the risk of vertical transmission. An analysis of the ethical cogency of the arguments against the provision of services does not substantiate the exclusion of HIV-infected individuals; rather, the principle of justice requires that HIV-infected women be treated the same way as a woman who might have an increased risk of conceiving a child with a disability or a may have a decreased life expectancy due to a chronic illness such as diabetes. Ethical disagreement notwithstanding, with the precedents recently established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), discrimination based on HIV status would also likely be unlawful under most circumstances.

Conclusions(s): With advances in the treatment of HIV infection, contextualized counseling and a respect for patients' decisions regarding infertility treatment should be adopted as public policy. It is neither ethically nor legally justifiable to categorically exclude individuals from infertility services on the basis of HIV infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome* / drug therapy
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome* / transmission
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Female
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections* / transmission
  • HIV* / drug effects
  • HIV* / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Infertility / therapy*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology
  • Reproductive Techniques* / legislation & jurisprudence