UK government to remove block on HIV+ intended parents conceiving through UK surrogacy

We are thrilled to see the government’s announcement in Parliament yesterday that it will remove the bar on HIV+ intended parents conceiving through UK surrogacy.  It follows a five year campaign brilliantly led by the National AIDS Trust, something we at NGA Law and Brilliant Beginnings have been proud to support.

The law on fertility access for HIV+ intended parents has not kept pace with modern science. Although people living with HIV can now, with the right medication, have an undetectable viral load which means it is not possible for them to pass on the infection to anyone else, outdated fertility regulations have persisted in requiring anyone who is providing sperm to a surrogate (or an egg to another woman) to be HIV negative.  In practice, this has blocked HIV+ parents from being able to conceive their own biological children through surrogacy at UK fertility clinics, making their only option to conceive a biological child through international surrogacy (usually in the USA).  The regulations have also obstructed same-sex female parents engaging in reciprocal IVF (where one partner carries the other’s biological child), barring this entirely for intended parents who are HIV+ and also adding to the screening costs for those who aren’t because, even though these women are giving their gametes to their partner, they have to be screened as if they were anonymous donors.

The government’s welcome announcement yesterday made clear the law will be brought up to date.  HIV+ parents with an undetectable viral load will be able to conceive through surrogacy in the UK and discrimination in screening against female same-sex couples will be removed.  With science able to eliminate risk in these scenarios, there is no longer a good justification for denying HIV+ parents the chance of becoming a biological parent, or of making female same-sex parents pay more for screening than their heterosexual counterparts who conceive with their partner’s gametes.

We wholeheartedly send our congratulations to the National AIDS Trust for its successful campaign, which we have supported since its inception. In 2017, Natalie spoke at an event for World AIDS Day run by P3 and the Terence Higgins Trust, and the following year was invited to speak to the British HIV Association national conference.  At both events, she shone a spotlight on the discrimination in the law and how it was affecting intended parents on the ground, something which first brought the issue to the attention of the National AIDS Trust.

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