BREAKING STIGMAS: HIV-positive Andrew posted a picture of his healthy family on Facebook
Andrew Pulsipher was born HIV positive, but his wife and three children are all HIV negative.
The dad-of-three shared a photo of the whole family on Facebook back in 2015, in a bid to smash the stereotypes around the disease.
His impactful snap went viral and received over 8,000 shares on social media.
Alongside the photo Andrew, from Phoenix, said: “Having a negative family can be the most positive thing in your life”.
The 33-year-old said he wants to educate people that being HIV positive does not mean you can’t have a family.
“This has taken me a very long time to be comfortable with (almost 34 years!),” he wrote on the Facebook post.
“I know HIV has a negative stigma, but that it doesn’t have to and I want to help change that. It is a treatable disease and you can live a normal life with it. I am proof of that.
“I want to educate people so that we can get past the ‘HOW you got the disease’ to ‘HOW you are living your life with it’?”
HIV POSITIVE: The dad-of-three’s post has already gone viral
Andrew has been HIV positive since birth, having had the disease passed on from his parents.
His parents died from AIDS when he was still a child. He said he had a normal upbringing and was raised by his aunt and uncle, and very few knew about his condition.
He met his wife, Victoria, and broached the subject of wanting to have a baby.
She told NBC news: “I kind of just assumed I would get it too, and that was OK with me, because I loved him and I wanted to be with him.”
“For our first child we did something called sperm washing”
Ten years on and they have now had three children through fertility treatment, all who are completely healthy.
Many people have commented on the photo and written on Andrew’s Facebook to tell him what an inspiration he has been.
“You are an inspiration Andrew. Thank you for sharing your story and GOD bless and continue to keep you and yours,”on person wrote.
Since he posted the photo, Andrew has also been inundated with questions about how he had healthy children.
He said: “I think the biggest question everyone is asking right now is ‘How did we have kids’.
“Well for our first child we did something called “sperm washing”.
“I give them a sample and they wash out the seamen and keep the sperm and then with fertility treatment we try and get pregnant.”
Sperm washing is a process which has been developed for couples who wish to have a child, where the male is HIV-positive and the female is HIV-negative.
The procedure reduces the risk of HIV transmission to the female partner and subsequently the unborn child.
Sperm washing rests on the premise that HIV infected material is carried primarily in the seminal fluid rather than in the sperm itself.
The technique involves purifying sperm from seminal fluid.
The sperm is then used for insemination into the female partner when she is ovulating and most likely to become pregnant (called intra-uterine insemination or IUI), or for in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Currently the cost of initial tests and consultations is in the region of £600. Each cycle of IUI with sperm washing is £750.
As well as informing thousands about the possibility of healthy children, Andrew hopes his photo will help break other taboo about being HIV positive.
The general perception about an HIV positive individual is that he or she has AIDS, which isn’t always the case.
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AIDS or Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is an effect of HIV if it’s allowed to destruct the immune system to the deadly stage.
If controlled, acquiring HIV cannot tamper the way of life of anyone.
Andrew, who started taking medication for HIV when he was eight, insists he lives a happy, healthy life.
He said: “I am married to an amazing woman and we will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary this October.
“I have three beautiful children. They are ages five, three, and one year old.
“I am currently ‘undetectable’. No it doesn’t mean I am a ninja.
“This phrase relates to the amount of virus detectable in my blood, although it still can be hidden in other parts of my body.
“It also means that the medicine I take every day is working.
“I am pretty sure I am at least one of the oldest living people prenatally infected or born with HIV.”
For more information on AIDS and HIV go to nhs.uk/conditions/HIV and for information on sperm washing go to nhs.uk/ipgmedia