PRESS RELEASE

2012-05-28

PRESS RELEASE
Fertility support is not available for HIV-positive women in Sweden
– a prominent difference between the Nordic countries is being observed.

2,208 women are living with HIV in Sweden. Out of these women,1447 are in the age range for fertility. Today HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was, thanks to the availability of drugs to suppress it, and for that reason many HIV-positive women choose to have children. Unfortunately HIV can affect a woman’s ability to conceive and fertility support is often needed. Swedish HIV-positive women haven’t got access to this type of support, which is available in neighboring country, Denmark.

The 24th May more than 100 Nordic healthcare professionals and nurses are getting together at the ‘Nordic Meeting on Women Living with HIV’, to share their individual experience and discuss treatment approaches.

“The approach to assisted conception is different in each of the Nordic countries. In Denmark, this type of support has been available for a long time. Since 2010 it has even been available to couples where both partners are HIV-positive, on the condition that they are both receiving treatment.“
Katarina Westling, Med dr. and Head-Physician,
Infektionskliniken, Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset, Huddinge
 
In Sweden, couples where only the man is HIV-positive, are offered to have the man’s sperm washed free of HIV before it is inserted into the woman, to avoid transmitting the infection.
 
IVF treatment not offered in Sweden
“IVF treatment is not available to HIV-positive women in Sweden, even though the virus is treatable and therefore not necessarily passed from mother to child”, says Katarina Westling. “However, Norway and Finland don’t offer the sperm-washing process.”
 
Today HIV-positive women are expected to live long, healthy lives and function socially for many years.
“For that reason these women should have the opportunity to have children, on the same terms as women who aren’t HIV-infected but suffer from other chronic conditions such as, diabetes.”

Growing old may have serious consequences for HIV-positive women, as they are likely to enter menopause quicker than the average, which increases their risk of developing osteoporosis. This tendency is also being discussed at the meeting. 

For further details please contact:
Katarina Westling, med dr. and Head-Physician at Infektionskliniken, Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset, Huddinge. Tel: +46 8 585 800 00, mobile: +46 70 422 28 61.
Email: katarina.westling@karolinska.se
Anne Wästgård, Kommunikationschef, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Telefon: 08 704 71 53, e-post: anne.wastgard@bms.com