Winston is a 51-year-old gay man. For years he’s held on to a secret that only his partner and a select few were privy to. Not even his family knew that he lived with being HIV-positive. He always wanted children of his own, but feared that he could pass on the disease on to his offspring. Then he met the good folks at Diversity Fertility Services. This is Winston’s journey to a dream realised.
According to Public Health England (PHE), 13% of gay men in London have HIV and a shocking 108,000 throughout the UK contracted the disease in 2013 and that number, unfortunately, is increasing every year. Winston, who was diagnosed several years ago, knew that if he stayed diligent with his medication, he could survive and be OK.
However, as he began to get more serious with his partner Sebastian, who he calls “the love of his life”, Winston started to take into consideration his future and, even more importantly, his legacy. “I began to feel major anxiety about whether children would be a reality for me. Of course, adoption was always an option, but doesn’t every man want to pass on his genes?”
“I was introduced to Helen and Diversity Fertility by a work colleague. He and his wife used Diversity Fertility a couple of years prior to have their daughter. I held on to the business card for several months, looking at it almost daily. I was afraid of sharing my story and leaving myself open to judgement. I was even more afraid that help wouldn’t be available to us because of my disease.”
“When Winston contacted us, it was evident that he was very reluctant to disclose much information,” says Helen Stephens, CEO at Diversity Fertility. “Our intention is to gather as much information from our clients directly pertaining to their journey to parenthood. It’s the only way to accurately meet their needs head on. The more Winston and I spoke, the more rapport we built with each other, and the more Winston shared. He informed me that he had HIV, and that he wished to have a child that was not infected by the disease.”
“Upon learning this, I was able to refer Winston to a Fertility Centre in the US that had the medical acumen to deal with patients infected with HIV and Hep B. We also made available counselling services and a social worker who worked with Winston’s GP and Fertility Specialist and updated the couple on resources that were available to them.”
“This process can be daunting, if you don’t have the right agency,” explains Winston. “In my case, Helen was able to explain each step of the process in a way that anyone can understand. Helen and her staff made life so easy for us. Sebastian and I both have stressful, demanding jobs, and I travel a lot. So being able to trust her and minimise our involvement in the minor details of the process, really helped a great deal.
“It took us several weeks to find the right Egg Donor and then we were able to find a Surrogate which for us seemed easy compared to finding the Donor. We wanted the perfect baby, so we needed the perfect Donor. Diversity helped us find our right Donor. They facilitated Skype calls with our Donor and arranged our visits with our Surrogate. They were even able to arrange for our newborn to receive the Surrogate Mother’s breast milk for several months, which was very important to Sebastian and I. There was no detail left out”.
“We encourage bonding with your Surrogate Mother whenever possible,” exclaims Helen. “It humanises the experience and allows an intended parent to understand and share in the experience of each milestone of their Surrogate Mother’s pregnancy. At Diversity, we also offer LGBT and International Concierge Services, so that the process is well-planned, as stress-free and enjoyable as it should be.”
“Our experience with Diversity Fertility was one that we hoped for,” says Winston. “Helen and her staff had great empathy and took excellent care of us. It’s apparent that they know exactly what they’re doing over there. Coincidently, my sister and her husband suffer from infertility and have tried to get pregnant for years. I referred them to Helen.
“As for us, our little Emily is 28 months, healthy and HIV-free. We just started the process with Helen for a sibling. I never thought it possible. It’s a dream come true!”