Sunday, April 26, 2009

HIV Fertility Clinic Opens In Jerusalem, Israel - Viral Disease Carriers Can Have Disease-free Children

The first of its kind in Israel, a new clinic at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem will allow persons who are carriers of viral diseases (Hepatitis C, HIV) to have healthy children using an innovative treatment: washing the sperm.

Dedicated and opened this morning, the new clinic will make it possible for Israeli HIV carriers to bring healthy children into the world. The clinic uses a washing technique that excludes the HIV RNA and allows the doctors to separate the sperm affected by the disease from those unaffected. The 'healthy sperm' are then used to fertilize the wife's egg in regular IUI/IVF procedures., Prof Shlomo Maayan, Head of the Department for Aids Medicine at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, said "In the past there were such attempts in Israel but no practical steps were carried out".

The new procedure gives hope for the 5,000 HIV carriers in Israel. "One of the conditions for participating in the project" explains Prof. Maayan "is that the husband continues to take the [medical] cocktail treatment. The amount of virus in his blood and semen has to be close to zero. Only when we are sure that we have succeeded in cleaning the sperm completely, will we fertilize the wife's egg".

The launching of this project was made possible through the cooperation between Hadassah Ein Kerem's clinic for HIV research, Dr. Philip Halfon, the director of a similar center in Marseille, France, and the Puah Institute for Fertility and Gynecology according to Jewish Law. Benjamin David, the Puah Institute counselor who coordinated the project, explains "When we became aware of this procedure we set out searching for a hospital here in Israel that we could set up such a clinic. God allowed us to play matchmaker in this effort"

"Within the religious world the number of HIV carriers is close to negligible.", said Rabbi Menachem Burstein, Dean of Puah Institute, "Nonetheless we saw an opportunity to help the broad community. To date through this method 200 healthy babies have been born to couples treated by Dr. Halfon's clinic in France. Our hope is that this new center will provide solutions to this problem in Israel as well."

About the Puah Institute

The Puah Institute is an independent non-profit providing medical and religious counseling to infertile couples.

The Puah Institute, established in 1990, provides free medical counseling to couples and works to bridge the gap between religious law and fertility medicine. Puah has offices in Jerusalem, Paris, New York & Los Angeles.

Puah Staff, Nissan Shtrauchler & Dani Adino-Ababa for Yediot Acharonot (Israel)