Fertility clinics give hope to childless HIV patients

2011-05-21 15:57

A visit to his doctor delivered devastating news that would change Paul Khuse’s* life.

He had tested HIV-positive.Khuse shuddered at the thought that he would have to break the news to his partner, whom he had cheated on.

“I knew that I had to tell her because we were planning to have a baby and I felt that it was important that she went to be tested as well,” he said.

The results came back negative for Khuse’s partner, but the news of his HIV status created a ­dilemma for the couple because they still wanted to have a baby.

“I did not want to put her life at risk so we decided to Google information that would help us decide what steps we needed to take to ensure that my partner would not get infected,” said Khuse.

Two clinics – Vitalab in Johannesburg and the Cape Fertility Clinic in Cape Town – could help them ­become parents without compromising the health of mother and child.

Two weeks ago, Khuse and his partner became proud parents of an HIV-negative baby girl.

The procedure is gaining momemtum. Dr Klaus Wiswedel of the Cape Fertility Clinic said they have performed about 200 conceptions in the last five years and now do about about five to 10 per month.

“The tendency is increasing, with a lot of referrals from other parts of Africa too,” he said.

Dr Lawrence Gobetz of the Vitalab clinic says they are overseeing 12 pregnancies and see three to five new HIV-positive patients a month.

This is since Gobetz and his team of specialists set up the ­clinic’s blood-borne viral disease intracytoplasmic sperm injection laboratory last year.

Gobetz says the first step is antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. “It is very important the ­person undergoing treatment has a good CD4 count.

They must be on ARVs so they have a zero viral load in the ejaculate,” he said.

A detailed evaluation of both partners is undertaken prior to the procedure in case the parents are no longer able to care for the ­baby as a result of their illness.However, the treatment does not come cheap.

The cost varies from R6 000 to R40 000 But for Khuse and his partner, the expense was worth it.

“It was expensive, but we wanted this for so long and finally we have a healthy baby,” he said.

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