1. Situations in which the male element of the couple has a viral infection
In cases where the male partner has a viral infection, it is possible to wash the spermin a laboratory environment, ensuring that is is free of contamination of the virus in question (HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C). After the sperm is washed a sample is analysed through molecular biology in order to confirm the success of the process (i.e. virus elimination). The rest of the sperm is then frozen in liquid nitrogen at -196 ° C, in order that it can be used in Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).
This is a safe and extremely effective technique that has already helped to raise thousands of children around the world: healthy children, nevertheless born from parents with infections.
2. Situations in which the female partner is infected with a viral infection
In situations where only the woman has an infection with the hepatitis B or C virus or HIV, it is necessary to start by evaluating whether a healthy pregnancy is medically possible. This requires a doctor's report accompanying the treatment of the infection, authorizing pregnancy taking into account the progression of the infection, the potential risks to the child associated with specific medication and the risks to the woman herself via changes that occur during the pregnancy.
In cases where it is necessary to perform the laboratory manipulation of the infected woman's gametes - where In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm microinjection (ICSI) is required - Portuguese legislation states that the treatment can only be done in PMA centres that have two separate laboratory units; one for the treatment of the couples with viral infections and the other for the treatment of the remaining couples.
In Ferticentro we do not have two autonomous units therefore we refer couples who are experience this issue to the Alfredo da Costa Maternity Hospital or to private institutions (in Portugal or abroad) that are authorized to perform this treatment.
If the woman carrying the infection undergoes an intrauterine insemination or an in vitro fertilization technique with donation of oocytes we will perform the treatment at Ferticentro in the same away as if no viral infection had not been present.
3. Situations in which both partners are infected
In these situations the first step will always be to obtain medical authorisation and anaylsis to gauge the the inherent risks that might occur during pregnancy which could accelerate the infection, the potential risks to the child associated with the use of specific medication, and the risks to the health of the woman during pregnancy.
The sperm will also have to be washed and the sample cryopreserved and tested by molecular biology techniques in order to confirm the effectiveness of the virus elimination process.
In cases where there is a clinical indication for treatment by intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization with donation of oocytes, the treatment is done at Ferticentro, the sperm being used only after confirmation of the absence of the virus in the treated sample.
If it is necessary to resort to laboratory manipulation of the oocytes of the infected woman we will refer the case to the Maternity Alfredo da Costa or to a private institution, in Portugal or abroad, that has an autonomous gametes processing units which satisfy legal requirements.