ELITE AFL footballers are being asked to lend a hand to lift the nation's sperm supplies.
As the AFL season starts this weekend, fertility clinic Monash IVF will write to the 10 Victorian-based AFL clubs, asking their players to become sperm donors.
Another clinic, Melbourne IVF, is lifting a 20-year ban on gay men becoming sperm donors. It has not permitted gay men to be donors since HIV became a problem in the 1980s. But gay men have been allowed to donate sperm for friends.
The two clinics are on a recruiting drive in anticipation of changes to state laws that will put their sperm supplies under even more pressure.
The Victorian Law Reform Commission has spent more than four years reviewing the state's fertility legislation. Yesterday, it handed its final report to Attorney-General Rob Hulls. A key recommendation is likely to be that single women and lesbians be permitted access to donor insemination and IVF, regardless of whether or not they are clinically infertile.
Melbourne IVF donor counselling co-ordinator Kate Bourne said while she supported the changes, the "floodgates" would open. She urged men to think about coming forward. "Donors aren't wankers," she said. "The donors I've had contact with have been genuinely nice men."
Melbourne IVF has changed its policy on gay donors because it is confident that sperm can be safely screened for HIV. Couples would be aware of the donor's sexuality before selecting them.
Monash IVF managing director Donna Howlett said the clinic was also considering approaching Victoria Police. It tried to recruit AFL footballers about 10 years ago, and sought the sperm of Victorian MPs two years ago. Neither drive was overly successful, but they raised awareness.
"If we get support from high-profile footballers it may highlight the need for donor sperm."
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