The world’s first HIV-positive sperm bank has opened in a bid to break down the stigma surrounding it.

Three donors from New Zealand with undetectable viral loads have started Positive Sperm, which ultimately is an awareness campaign and not an operating fertility clinic. Although, organizers have said they could connect hopeful parents with donors if they wished.

Damien Rule-Neal was one of the first men to donate, claiming that those is New Zealand are still largely uneducated as to what undetectable meant.

“I have many friends who are also living with HIV who’ve gone on to have children,” he said.

Adding, “Being able to help others on their journey is so rewarding, but I also want to show the world that life doesn’t stop post-diagnosis and help to remove the stigma.”

While the online initiative will inform those seeking a donor that the men are HIV+, it also aims to inform those living with HIV that they do have options available to them when it comes to having children; something which even those with HIV don’t always realise is a possibility.

Dr Mark Thomas, an infectious diseases doctor and Auckland University associate professor, said he had seen changes in public opinion after working in the sector for more than 30 years.

“I’m glad to say that in this time there have been great changes in public understanding of HIV, but many people living with HIV still suffer from stigma. Stigma can lead to the inconsistent taking of medicines, and result in much less effective treatment, and risk of transmitting HIV.”

“Fear of stigma and discrimination can stop people at risk from getting tested, and those living with HIV from accessing treatment and support.”