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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Trying to Get Pregnant and Thankful for PrEP

by an HIV-negative spouse

I've been married to my HIV+ husband for over ten years.


A few years ago we decided we wanted to try to get pregnant.


After years of researching and many disappointments, we decided to try to conceive naturally. Luckily, I had a doctor that was willing to work with us, who respected our choices, and wanted to do whatever she could to mitigate my risks.

She prescribed me Truvada. I began taking it for a month before my husband and I had unprotected sex, and after about two years of trying...we are still not pregnant, but I remain negative.

I realize our choices are risky, but there are not many realistic options for couples in our position who want to conceive. Sure, there are fertility treatments, we looked in to them all, not one fertility treatment option worked for us for one reason or another.

Taking the Truvada does not make me "reckless" in my decision to have unprotected sex, it makes me feel supported by a community of doctors and advocates, who recognize the nuances of my situation, and are doing all they can to help me stay negative.

I understand the risks I'm taking. I don't minimize them just because I'm using Truvada.

It is frustrating to hear experts say that prescribing Truvada to someone could give them an unrealistic sense of safety from becoming HIV+. I'm sure that's true for some...but judging from my own REAL (not hypothetical) experience, it makes me more aware of the risks I'm taking. I am reminded of those risks on a daily basis, every time I open that bottle and swallow that blue pill. I don't take them lightly. If I did, I wouldn't go through the trouble of using Truvada.

I've jumped a lot of hurdles to get to this place....through legislative changes, doctors with unbelievable and blatant prejudice, and all the disappointments that go with failing to conceive.

What has angered me the most, is watching and listening to doctors, politicians, and experts decide what my choices and risks should be.  For most of them, it is their job. But for me....it is my life.

Their opinions and decisions trickle down to impact my life in very real ways. From not being able to utilize certain fertility treatments because the Center for Disease Control won't establish guidelines, (even though I am legally entitled to those treatments), to walking past the baby apparel section at the store, to seeing that negative pregnancy test every month.

With all the complications and legal limitations of our situation, I am thankful for the opportunity to use Truvada. For now, it is my only option. And I think its a good one.

To read more about my journey, check out my blog (HIV negative spouses.)

6 comments:

  1. HIV tests are utterly unreliable.

    An Army sergeant, defended by military lawyer William E. Cassara ( http://courtmartial.com/fort-bragg-nc-soldier-diagnosed-with-hiv-acquitted-of-aggravated-assault/ ) was acquitted despite admitting that he had not informed several women of his status as “HIV-positive” before they engaged in consensual condom-protected sexual intercourse. The crucial point: there was reasonable doubt as to whether the sergeant was “infected with HIV” because, according to the judge: "it was established that no “HIV” tests prove infection".

    Pregnancy is one among more than 60 illnesses and conditions unrelated to HIV known to produce "positive" results in these unrelibale tests ( http://www.virusmyth.com/aids/hiv/cjtestfp.htm )

    Healthy pregnant women have "HIV" antigens in their placentas, which may cause them to test "positive" without having HIV: (see "HIV proteins in normal human placentae." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1930645 )

    Chemotherapy to prevent vertical transmission from mother to child has multiple toxicities that could endanger the lives of both ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17358032 ). In any case it induces permanent mitochondrial, genetic and neurological damage in children exposed to treatment ( http://u569.kb.inserm.fr/epf/Articles%201996-2000%20CDrom/Article%2015.pdf ). The danger of these substances, especially to an immature baby, gives the mother the right to demand an absolute certainty in the diagnosis not obtainable by indirect methods. In good medical practice, treatments with side effects are avoided if certainty in the diagnosis does not exceedes 80% (see page 258 of http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1671109 ). The unreliability of these tests is well under 50%, which reducesthe risk of transmission to less than 6%. Under these conditions, chemotherapy will cause unnecessary iatrogenic injury to a baby that has more than 94% chances of being born healthy with no intervention at all.

    From a purely ethical point of view, it's hard to justify inflicting permanent injury to 94 healthy children to try and prevent the infection of 6 ( http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199411033311811 ).

    ReplyDelete
  2. (Ignoring the completely ridiculous AIDS-denialist distortions in the previous comment...)

    This is a great contribution to the PrEP discussion, HIV-Negative Spouse. Thanks for sharing your story. Congratulations on your persistence despite all the obstascles. And good luck in your attempts at pregnancy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. HIV-Negative Spouse: Thank you for sharing your story! Very well written. I applaud your willingness to share your journey publicly. Exposing the barriers to safer conception options and shining a light on the stigma for HIV-discordant couples critical to making change. I have my fingers crossed that your dreams come true.

    ReplyDelete
  4. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wanted to update everyone...I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in April 2013, was still using the Truvada!

    ReplyDelete
  6. My finance and I just got the news that we're expecting! He's HIV positive (due to bad medicine that he took for hemophilia back in the 80's) and I'm hiv negative. I starting taking truvada back in October, starting trying to conceive in November, and have a positive pregnancy test in January. Still hiv negative, but we'll continue to take the medicine throughout the pregnancy as a precaution.

    ReplyDelete

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