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This article presents information about the social, legal and medical issues that medical and non-medical practitioners in the UKi should consider in order to signpost options for people living with HIV (PLWH) who are not in a heterosexual relationship and want to become parents. Despite significant medical advances, increased medical awareness among HIV practitioners and the ability to live a full life with HIV, stigma still exists around PLWH wanting to have children. There is a lack of awareness among the general public and the non-specialist medical community about the realities of living with HIV, and the options available to become a parent.
Vertical transmission rates in the UK are very low (<0.5%).1 Despite this, even among PLWH it is evident that stigma surrounding parenting with HIV is real, with almost 50% of HIV-positive respondents in a European study saying that having HIV would be a barrier to them deciding to have a family.2 Irrespective of their sexual orientation, HIV-positive parents and prospective parents may bear the brunt of a historical HIV stigma, and the negative discourses that surround lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered/gender diverse (LGBT) parenting, despite the legal advances over the past decade.
First steps to breaking down this stigma are to increase public awareness around the realities of living with HIV, and awareness among PLWH that being a parent is an option for them. In 2016 in London, the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target was achieved for the first time. England came close to meeting that target, with 88% of those living with HIV being diagnosed, 96% of those on HIV treatment and 97% of them having an undetectable viral load.3 Most PLWH taking antiretroviral medication therefore have undetectable levels of HIV in blood, meaning they cannot transmit HIV via sexual fluids.4
Despite this, …
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