Human immunodeficiency virus and assisted reproduction: Reconsidering evidence, reframing ethics

Anne Drapkin Lyerly, Jean Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Objective: To review the advances in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and revisit the medical, ethical, and legal issues surrounding infertility management in HIV-infected couples. Design: Analytic review. Result(s): HIV infection continues to be a serious public health and reproductive issue. However, present policies which allow for the categorical exclusion of HIV-infected individuals from infertility services should be reconsidered in light of improvements in the prognosis of infected individuals and a dramatic decrease in the risk of vertical transmission. An analysis of the ethical cogency of the arguments against the provision of services does not substantiate the exclusion of HIV-infected individuals; rather, the principle of justice requires that HIV-infected women be treated the same way as a woman who might have an increased risk of conceiving a child with a disability or a may have a decreased life expectancy due to a chronic illness such as diabetes. Ethical disagreement notwithstanding, with the precedents recently established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), discrimination based on HIV status would also likely be unlawful under most circumstances. Conclusion(s): With advances in the treatment of HIV infection, contextualized counseling and a respect for patients' decisions regarding infertility treatment should be adopted as public policy. It is neither ethically nor legally justifiable to categorically exclude individuals from infertility services on the basis of HIV infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)843-858
Number of pages16
JournalFertility and sterility
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001


  • AIDS
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Ethics
  • HIV
  • Infertility
  • Reproduction
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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