• Kyodo

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The wives of two HIV-positive men have been impregnated through in vitro fertilization after their husbands’ semen was cleared of the virus, doctors at a Niigata university said Wednesday.

The first birth is expected this fall. Niigata University Faculty of Medicine carried out the procedures, the first of their kind performed in Japan.

Several blood tests on the women show they are free from HIV infection, and one of them is expected to give birth in the fall and the other next spring, the doctors said.

The university has notified the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology about the case.

Kenichi Tanaka, a professor at the university who performed the in vitro fertilization process, said one couple are in their 30s, while the other man is in his 30s and the woman in her 40s. Both couples live in eastern Japan.

One of the men contracted HIV from unheated blood products during treatment for hemophilia, Tanaka said.

In July 2000, the state-run university sought permission from its ethics committee to carry out the process and obtained committee approval in October.

The procedure was carried out on one woman in February and on the other in June.

The process of clearing the virus was conducted at Ogikubo Hospital in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward, using a method jointly developed by the hospital and Keio University School of Medicine.

It involves placing semen and a chemical substance into a test tube in a centrifugal separator, which separates the semen from impurities, lymphocytes and viruses. The semen is then placed in another solution to extract only healthy spermatozoa, which are then again tested for infection.

Since May 2000, four artificial inseminations have been conducted using virus-free semen from an HIV-positive man at Tottori University Hospital. It remains unknown whether the wife became pregnant following the procedures.

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