HIV and Baby Makes Three--Kindle Single Finishing Funds

Two couples have unprotected sex. In each, the man has HIV. Here's why they're not crazy.
Heather Boerner
Email Verified
San Francisco, California
United States
1 Team Member

Ryan Nicole Hartmann is a miracle of modern science. Ten fingers, 10 toes, and zero HIV.

That's saying something, considering how she was conceived. Her HIV-positive father had sex with his HIV-negative wife. Without a condom. And no one got HIV.

The story of how Ryan and babies like her came to be is the story of couples and scientists who imagined a world in which unprotected sex didn't have to be a death sentence. And it's a story of risk: about the risks women take every day to have sex with their HIV-positive husbands, how much risk they're willing to to take to have a baby, and the potential risks to all of us if they were to throw away the condoms. Would they have normal, healthy babies? Or would they pass on the virus, leading to a resurgence in the epidemic? And finally, it's the story of how an unlikely, 13-year-long study of couples around the world proved the unthinkable true: That unprotected sex can be safer sex for some couples, thus clearing the way for babies like Ryan.

That's what HIV and Baby Makes Three is all about. It's the rigorously reported, compassionately written, real-life story of two couples, their longing for a family and the scientists, doctors and researchers who helped--and hindered them--along the way.

This is where you come in.

Why an Indiegogo campaign?

Help me turn this piece of long-form journalism into a Kindle Single. The reporting and writing of the story is complete. But before it can go to Amazon for publishing, it must be edited and fact-checked thoroughly. Then, publishing the article as an ebook will allow me to take advantage of the capabilities of the medium to use photos, graphics and animations to explain some of the more scientifically tricky facts. The $6,000 breaks down this way:

  • $1,100 for editing
  • $1,500 for fact-checking
  • $400 for graphic design
  • $1,000 for photography of the couples in San Francisco and Maryland
  • $2,000 for animations
  • $500 for contingencies

* What happens if we raise more than $6,000? All additional funds will go toward additional interactive elements, videos and promotion of the ebook.


  • This article does not promote unsafe sex. Rather, it lays out exactly how hard a decision it was for these couples to decide to go against decades of conventional wisdom, as well as the scientific and ethical challenges doctors face in helping their HIV-positive patients and their partners create a family.
  • Having said that, it also does not stigmatize HIV-discordant couples for wanting to have children. It sees this drive to form a family as normal and natural.
  • This is not an opinion piece. This is a piece of journalism that follows two couples from falling in love to having their first child. It includes doctors, scientists, and public health officials who put their journey into context, with both advances in HIV science and the current state of the epidemic.
  • This story focuses on HIV-positive men and their HIV-negative wives. There are HIV-positive women married to HIV-negative men, of course, and a world of research on transmission rates between gay men. Those stories are worth telling, too, but they aren't this story.
  • HIV-discordant couples adopt every year. That's a great story, and this article does address the question of adoption. But it's about couples trying to get pregnant the old-fashioned way.
  • This story is not about magical thinking. While it is told from the perspective of the couples, it's also deeply rooted in the science of HIV medicine and teaches readers what HIV is like today.

About me:

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist ( My work has appeared in some of the nation's largest magazines, newspapers and websites, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Better Homes and Gardens, USA Today, Prevention and I've won awards and fellowships for my reporting from places like the Association of Health Care Journalists and the University of Southern California. I specialize in telling thoughtful stories that illuminate the challenges people face in getting the healthcare they need, and how they make tough choices for themselves and their loved ones.

Will you help me?

This story is about two things: The shocking news out of the scientific community that unprotected sex doesn't have to be a death sentence, and the medications that make that possible; and the totally human yearning for a family. Put those together and what you have is a disease that has changed, even while our ideas about HIV have stayed, often, stuck in the 1980s. We're in a pivotal time, though--a time when this information could be used wrongly to fuel unsafe behavior that could lead to more deaths, or it could lead, as the President said, an "HIV-free generation."

How we take this information is up to us. In order to understand it, though, we have to understand the real issues facing people with HIV, and the state of HIV medicine today. HIV and Baby Makes Three connects those dots and give us a working framework for understanding the HIV world as exists today, not as it did in the last century. 

Let’s re-tell the story of how we make babies in the modern age.

Find This Campaign On
raised by 99 people in 1 month
64% funded
No time left
$6,500 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on December 1, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Gratitude Level

    A thank-you email.

    3 claimed
  • $20USD
    Friends Level

    A shout out on the HIV and Baby Makes Three Facebook page, along with a thank-you email.

    13 claimed
  • $30USD
    Acknowledgment Level

    All of the above, plus a thank-you in the acknowledgment section of the ebook.

    10 claimed

    Heart on Your Sleeve Level

    All of the above, plus a limited edition t-shirt from the Bay Area Perinatal AIDS Center. (Note: This perk is NOT included in subsequent perks.) Select black, white or pink/red.

    3 out of 3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: February 2014
  • $40USD
    Love Letter Level

    All of the above (minus the BAPAC t-shirts), plus a pack of love notepads for your special person from in time for Valentines Day.

    1 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: February 2014
  • $50USD
    Narrative Level

    All of the above, plus a copy of the ebook upon publication.

    19 claimed
    Estimated delivery: February 2014

    Artistry Level-Seaweed

    All of the above (except the t-shirt and love notes) plus an original artwork by Portland artist Laurel McSpadden. Seaweed (viewable in the gallery) is pen on acid free watercolor paper and is 8x11.

    1 out of 1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013

    Artistry Level-Rake's Progress

    All of the above (except the t-shirt and love notes) plus an original artwork by Portland artist Laurel McSpadden. Rake's Progress is gouache on acid free watercolor paper and is 7x9.

    1 out of 1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $100USD
    Bonus Chaper Level

    All of the above, plus a bonus chapter of out-takes and an update on where the couples (and kids!) are now.

    5 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: February 2014
  • $125USD
    Podcast Level

    All of the above, plus an exclusive podcast with Dr. Nika Seidman and social Shannon Weber, of the Bay Area Perinatal AIDS Center. We'll talk about the state of the science, as well as how a hotline created to provide HIV consults to non-HIV clinicians turned into a clearinghouse of information for women looking to have babies with their HIV-infected partners.

    1 out of 10 claimed
  • $200USD
    Collaborator Level

    All of the above, plus a phone call with me about the science behind the story and your ideas of what needs to be written about this topic next.

    2 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $1,000USD
    Sponsor Level

    All of the above, plus you will be the project’s official sponsor and will be credited as such on the ebook's Facebook page and in the ebook when it’s published.

    0 out of 3 claimed
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