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reproduction bill passes California assembly committee

reproduction bill passes California assembly committee

California state senator Carole Migden's bill to allow women with HIV-positive partners to take advantage of reproductive technology, which would let them conceive safely, passed the assembly health committee Tuesday on a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 11-0.

Modern reproductive technology, called assisted reproduction, is able to strip sperm of HIV, but current legislation prevents couples--where the father is HIV-positive--from taking advantage of these advances. In an attempt to lower the likelihood of HIV transmission during conception, Migden introduced the bill to allow would-be parents to receive assisted reproduction under certain guidelines.

"All families deserve access to the tools that reproductive science has to offer," said Migden in a press release. "In this case California law needs to catch up with technology because, whether inadvertently or not, it discriminates against HIV-positive men. My legislation will ensure equal reproductive rights for all women, regardless of their partners' HIV status."

California law currently prohibits transferring bodily tissue from a donor who is HIV-positive. This law, which was created to protect patients receiving organ, tissue, and sperm donations, has consequently legally barred HIV-positive men from impregnating their partners, even though assisted reproduction has minimized the risk of infection. California and Delaware are the only states in the nation that bar the procedure, a process that has been available for 10 years.

Assisted reproduction processes significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission. According to the press release, studies in New York, Spain, and Italy have reported no instance of transmission from donor to recipient when the newest methods are employed. According to the University of California, San Francisco's Dr. Deborah Cohan, there have been over 4,000 assisted reproductive procedures involving HIV-infected men and uninfected women and 700 births without a single case of HIV transmission to child or mother.

"I am thrilled at the prospect of being able to offer my patients a safe method of conceiving," said Cohan, who serves as medical director of the Bay Area Perinatal AIDS Center, in the press release. "With potent antiretroviral therapy now available, HIV-infected individuals live increasingly healthy and normal lives and many want to have families. With this important bill, we will be able to offer them a safe way of building healthy families." (The Advocate)

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