Dear Abby: I am a wife and mother who never thought HIV/AIDS would come so close to my family. Ten years ago, all we wanted was a baby. We found out that we could not conceive, so we tried artificial insemination. We tried for a year; no luck. So we ended up adopting a boy.
Two years ago, we received a telephone call. The semen donor had AIDS. I was tested, and the results were positive.I know that I am meant to help other people with this. Abby, 80,000 women in this country have been inseminated - and they need to be tested! Only five states are requiring donors to be tested, and that is ridiculous. I hope to change that. Please let me be a voice, so that others can receive early treatment. Thank you for all of your AIDS work.
- Mary O.
in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Dear Mary O.: Thank you for an important letter. At this time, approximately 20 states test semen donors for HIV, but that is still fewer than half the states in this country.
Unfortunately, 10 years ago when you were inseminated, there were no tests for HIV. The Centers for Disease Control issued its first guidelines for semen donors in 1985. They have since been updated twice (1988 and 1994). However, the CDC cannot mandate or regulate enforcement of its guidelines.
The CDC recommends that all semen donors be tested at the time of donation and that their sperm be frozen for six months, at which time the donor is tested again. If his results are negative, his frozen semen is then made available for insemination.
Although some states follow recommended guidelines, they are not always as stringent as those issued by the Centers for Disease Control.
Your letter should serve as a warning to other couples. When a sperm bank is contacted, the people there should be carefully questioned about their procedures: Are they using frozen semen? Do they retest their donors after six months before using their semen? Are they accredited? If so, by whom? The state agency that regulates the sperm bank should be contacted, and the records regarding that bank should be reviewed. Finally, contact more than one sperm bank before making a decision on which one to use.
For additional information, I recommend the American Fertility Association in Birmingham, Ala.; the Intergovernmental Health Policy Project in Washington, D.C.; and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
Dear Abby: I have been going with a very nice young lady and I would like to ask her to marry me, but I'm afraid our marriage might not have a chance because of the hours I would have to work.
Should I get married while I'm with the fire department or try to get another job?
- Rookie Fireman
Dear Fireman: Ask the guys at the firehouse. Plenty of fire-fighters are happily married. The flame of love can continue to burn brightly at home while you put out the others.
Good advice for everyone - teens to seniors - is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)