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Fertility Clinics

Volume 408: debated on Friday 11 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are in place to ensure that fertility clinics protect their patients from the risk of HIV transmission. [124398]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's (HFEA) Code of Practice states that licensed fertility clinics helping HIV positive people to have a baby should use the guidelines issued by the Association of Clinical Embryologists (ACE) and other professional bodies.The ACE "Accreditation Standards and Guidelines for IVF Laboratories" include the need for separate storage equipment for infected embryos and for laboratories to be fully equipped to deal with HIV. The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens gives guidelines on handling blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis.As a further protective measure, the chair of the HFEA wrote to all licensed centres in March 2001 asking them to introduce routine screening of patients for HIV as well as hepatitis B and C. This will become mandatory in December 2004. All gamete donors are already routinely screened for HIV and detailed guidance on this is included in the HFEA's Code of Practice. This includes a requirement for donor gametes to be stored for 180 days and re-tested to minimise as far as possible the risk of HIV transmission.In addition to patient and donor screening, the current edition of the HFEA's Code of Practice requires laboratories in licensed centres to have procedures in place to ensure that all blood products are pre-screened for HIV.