A Not for Profit Laboratory

The Bedford Research Foundation's clinical laboratory is a not for profit, Massachusetts public charity. The laboratory operates on the principle that revenues and information from existing laboratory tests should be used to support research and the development of new tests.

HIV Test for Semen

SPAR is the only program in the world that uses highly sensitive PCR tests for HIV in semen to minimize the risk of cryobanking sperm that could transmit the father's infection to the mother and child during assisted reproduction. Learn More

Understanding The Science

A guide to the differences between HIV in blood and HIV in semen, the HIV semen test, “sperm washing,” and how SPAR developed the most stringent safety standards for semen testing in the world.
HIV in Blood VS. HIV in Semen

Research has shown that an HIV blood test is not a reliable predictor of viral burden in semen. These studies have revealed that semen producing organs are a separate compartment of HIV infection, and that semen viral burden is different from blood viral burden, even in men on therapy. For this reason, Bedford scientists have structured SPAR around semen testing and using sperm only from specimens that test undetectable for HIV.

HIV in Semen Vs. HIV in Blood

Data compiled by BRF scientists in 2006 revealed that 24% of the semen specimens from 262 men entering SPAR were positive for HIV, even though the men had an undetectable burden of viral RNA (HIV particles) in blood. All men eventually produced at least two specimens with undetectable virus.

This important finding, that HIV is intermittently present in semen specimens, is what makes testing each specimen for virus so important to prevent virus transmission.