Tough Road to Starting a Family for HIV-Positive Man

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Andrew Jolivette wants to start a family but because he is HIV-positive, he is having a hard time finding a place that will help him donate sperm to his friend. (Ryder Diaz/KQED)

Editor’s note: Andrew Jolivette was diagnosed with AIDS eleven years ago. Back then, he didn’t think he could ever have a family, since it was illegal for HIV-positive men to donate sperm. California reversed that law in 2007. Now, Jolivette hopes to start a family with a friend. As part of our ongoing series of first-person health profiles called “What’s Your Story?” Jolivette tells us how some medical facilities still can’t handle this kind of situation.

By Andrew Jolivette

You know, my mother passed away about a year ago and I think that that also, in all honesty, has had some impact on me saying: Well gosh, she was such a great mom and all these things she taught me, I want to be able to share that with someone, too.

Quite frankly, because [my viral load is] undetectable and there are measures they can take like sperm washing and the potential mother, can take anti-retrovirals beforehand to ensure that she nor the child will be infected, then why not?

But the first response after we both did fertility tests, they said, well, as you know you’re HIV positive, so we don’t really have the capacity to do that here. So what they suggested, which I found rather insulting, was that we actually do insemination at home. I took that to mean — that whole sort of outdated thing, it’s the stereotype when people say, you go get a turkey-baster type thing.

Really, if we’re talking about people having equal rights to health care, if you’re performing these services for other people who aren’t (HIV) positive, then you should be performing these services for people who are positive.

They need to be prepared. If it’s been six years and you’re aware of the law, then why haven’t you done more to make this accessible to people who want to have children and raise families?

Related: Re-thinking Unprotected Sex for HIV-Positive Men Who Want Children

Listen to Jolivette’s story:

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