Repository logo

Asked to be a sperm donor: disclosure dilemmas of gay men living with HIV.

Accepted version



Change log


Anderson, Jane 
Burns, Fiona 
Barber, Tristan J 


Previous research has documented the various challenges people living with HIV face as they navigate intimate relationships, including what is often referred to as disclosure. In studies of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, the issue of telling or not telling others about an HIV-positive status has been examined primarily in relation to communication with sexual partners, with few studies focusing on other aspects of intimacy. Drawing on interviews with gay men living with HIV, conducted in four clinics in London, this article explores the narratives of men who have been asked by female friends about the possibility of being a sperm donor. The narratives highlight layers of complexity which have received little attention, not only in research on HIV but also in studies of sperm donation and co-parenting. The article advances dialogue between these two largely separate bodies of work. Our data suggest that reluctance to share an HIV-positive status with others can be an important factor in deciding how to answer the 'sperm donor question'. Examining reproductive relationships of a specific kind - those based on friendships between women and gay men - the article develops the understanding of how secrecy about HIV shapes intimate lives.



HIV disclosure, UK, co-parenting, gay men, sperm donation

Journal Title

Cult Health Sex

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Informa UK Limited
British HIV Association (BHIVA)
Wellcome Trust (100606/Z/12/Z)
Isaac Newton Trust (18.08(m))
Leverhulme Trust (ECF-2018-146)
This study was funded by the British HIV Association and the Wellcome Trust (grant number 100606/Z/12/Z). Most of the work on this article took place during Robert Pralat’s fellowship funded by the Isaac Newton Trust and the Leverhulme Trust (grant number ECF-2018-146). Robert Pralat is currently based in The Healthcare Improvement Studies (THIS) Institute at the University of Cambridge. THIS Institute is supported by the Health Foundation, an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and healthcare for people in the UK.