Access to fertility services in Canada for HIV-positive individuals and couples: a comparison between 2007 and 2014

AIDS Care. 2017 Nov;29(11):1433-1436. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2017.1332332. Epub 2017 May 29.


In the modern era of HIV care, a multitude of clinical needs have emerged; one such need is the growing sub-specialty of HIV and reproductive health. In 2007, a study surveying Canadian fertility clinics found limited access to fertility services for HIV-positive patients. Given the extensive efforts made to address this lack of services, a follow-up assessment was warranted. This study aimed to compare the access to Canadian fertility clinics and services for HIV-positive individuals and couples in 2014 and 2007. Surveys were sent to medical or laboratory directors of assisted reproductive technology (ART) clinics in 2014 and results were compared to those sent in 2007. Main outcome measures included: the proportion of fertility clinics willing to provide ART to people with HIV, the specific services offered, and whether the 2012 Canadian HIV Pregnancy Planning Guidelines were implemented to inform practice. Across Canadian provinces, 20/34 (59%) clinics completed the survey. Ninety-five percent (19/20) of clinics accepted HIV-positive patients for consultation. Only 50% (10/20) of clinics in four provinces offered a full range of ART (defined as including in vitro fertilization [IVF]). Ten clinics (50%) in five provinces were aware that guidelines exist; half (n = 5) having read them and four reporting implementation of all the guidelines' recommendations in their practice. Compared to 2007, more clinics had implemented separate facilities (p = 0.028) to treat HIV-positive individuals, offered IVF (p = 0.013) for HIV-positive female partners, sperm washing (p = 0.033) for HIV-positive male partners, and risk reduction techniques to couples with HIV-positive men and women (p = 0.006). Access to fertility clinics for people with HIV has improved over time but is still regionally dependent and access to full ART remains limited. These findings suggest the need for advocacy targeted towards geographical-specific areas and optimizing access to comprehensive services.

Keywords: Human immunodeficiency virus; access to care; assisted reproductive technology; clinic policy; fertility; pregnancy planning.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / organization & administration
  • Canada
  • Family Planning Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • HIV Seropositivity / transmission*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted*