HART Program FAQs

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Yahoo Parenting ran this story about a man living with an HIV positive diagnosis. This man is also a father through surrogacy, and that breakthrough was made possible through the use of our HART program.

Here are a few frequently asked questions about the program.

What is HART?

HART stands for HIV Assisted Reproductive Technologies. Growing Generations has developed a cutting edge approach to assisted reproductive technologies combined with laboratory testing and preventative medications so HIV+ people who want to use their sperm to create embryos may have the chance to become biological parents.

Will the Baby or the Gestational Carrier Get HIV?

No. Because it is now possible to take a single sperm and insert it directly into the egg for fertilization. As a result, the viral load is so small that chances of an infection are incredibly rare. In more than 4,000 reported cases of assisted reproduction using sperm from an HIV+ person, there has been no case of transmission to the gestational carrier or the baby.

What HIV+ Patients Are Eligible?

Aside from the general eligibility that Growing Generations looks for in intended parents, there are a few others specific to someone who is HIV+. A sperm contributor who is HIV+ is eligible to conceive children if they are on long-term HIV medications, have an undetectable viral load, and haven’t changed their HIV medication in 6 months. Sperm contributors who need to be on HIV medications need to have taken them consistently for 6 months before they can leave their semen deposit. This means that their regimen can’t have changed and that they have had several undetectable viral loads over a 6-month period, including an undetectable viral load immediately before sperm donation.

How is this possible?

The amount of HIV virus in a patient can be calculated and is called the viral load. Drugs prescribed for patients who are HIV+, usually protease inhibitors, are able to knock down the replication of the virus. The “cocktail” of drugs decreases the amount of virus in the patient to unidentifiable levels of viral load.

What About Other Types of Viral Infections?

For the most part, the same drugs, lab tests, and assisted reproductive technologies that apply to HIV+ sperm contributors can be used in those who are infected with other viral diseases like hepatitis so that they can safely have children. Regardless of your sexual orientation or whether you need the help of a surrogate or your partner will carry your child—we’re now able to move forward and provide a safe environment for you to have children where the risk of transmitting HIV to the pregnant person or to your child is negligible.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.