Fact Check: Is removing HIV from sperm cells a new invention?

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Quick Take

A social media post claims that removing HIV from sperm cells is a newly invented technique. We fact-checked and found the claim to be False.

The Claim

A Facebook post claims ‘Meet Lebo Moatshe from South Africa who successfully removed HIV from a sperm cell in a lab which is a huge medical breakthrough. ” I’ve done 20 semen decontamination procedures (removing HIV from semen) so far and I managed to successfully remove the virus from all semen samples ” she said.”

Fact Check

Is removing HIV from sperm cells a new invention?

It does not seem so. Lebo Moatshe is not the first person to conduct this research practice. We found a research paper published in 1992 followed by two more published in 2013 and 2016 that separated HIV from sperm cells.

The misunderstanding was later corrected by Lebo Moatshe in a Twitter post that states ‘I must clarify that I’m not the first person to do this procedure. It has been done by many over a period of years. It is a common thing in reproductive biology. I have just acquired the skill recently as an intern hence my post’.

How HIV is removed from sperm cells?

HIV is removed from sperm cells through a technique called sperm washing which is used in assisted reproductive technology to get healthy sperm samples. This technique is beneficial for people undergoing fertility treatment, including in cases where one partner is HIV positive while the other is HIV negative.

In a 2017 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded, ‘There is considerable new information about prevention of HIV transmission in HIV-discordant couples since 1990 when CDC recommended against insemination with semen from HIV-infected men. However, current evidence suggests that the risk for transmission from an HIV-infected male partner to an HIV-uninfected female partner is low if appropriate risk-reduction strategies are implemented. As data regarding the safety and effectiveness of semen processing emerges, the risk profile for each treatment option will be further defined. HIV-discordant couples who desire to conceive might wish to discuss treatment options with a medical provider who can explain the risks and benefits of different treatment modalities as they apply to the couple’s specific situation before attempting conception’.

THIP MEDIA TAKE: Lebo Moatshe is not the first person to conduct sperm washing research practice. We found a research paper published in 1992 followed by two more published in 2013 and 2016 that separated HIV from sperm cells. Hence, the claim is false.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer
Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can further read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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