In an effort to reduce the stigma around HIV Aids, New Zealand has introduced the world's first HIV positive sperm bank for men living with the degenerative disease.
The bank, known as "Sperm Positive", currently has three donors. The donors are men who have an "undetectable viral load" as in that case, the HIV does not get transmitted to another subject through unprotected sex or childbirth. This does not mean that the HIV has been completely cured. However, it does indicate the patient's treatment has worked successfully enough to reduce the virus to near extinction in the blood.
One of the donors, Damien Rule-Neal, was diagnosed positive in 1999 but has been tested to have an undetectable load since 18 years, thanks to his treatment.
The initiative was envisaged by the New Zealand Aids Foundation in collaboration with Positive Women Inc and Body Positive. The aim of the special sperm bank is to increase education and awareness about HIV AIDS and its transmission.
Stigma and cultural stereotypes are some of the biggest impediments to the improvement of the quality of life of those living with HIV AIDS.
According to Dr Mark Thomas, Associate Professor at Auckland University and an infectious diseases specialist, stigma can often lead to "inconsistent taking of medicines, and result in much less effective treatment of HIV, and risk of transmitting HIV," The Guardian reported.
Stigma and fear of discrimination also prevents people from getting tested on time and seek appropriate medical attention.
Stigma is often caused by lack of information and awareness about a topic, coupled with outdated belief systems. The Center For Disease Control and Prevention's definition also adds many people suffer stereotypes about HIV AIDS only affecting a certain section of people such as homosexuals that lead to "negative value sets".
The online bank was launched ahead of World Aids Day 2019 that will be observed on December 1.