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anemia and oral sex
May 8, 2002

hey doctor robert, two questions for you because you are the only doc on this forum who gives a straight answers to hard gay questions and besides you're the hottest! and i've heard you are an expert in both of these fields. question 1 is anemia contagious? my roomate (former lover from a million years ago) has some kind of bad anemia. maybe related to his meds or herbs, am i at risk just living in the same appartment? question 2 what's the real story with oral sex? is it risky for hiv or not. i really just want to know if i can give and get head at the circuit party next weekend. thanx, horny dude

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hey Horny Dude,

"Straight answers to hard gay questions?" OK, if you say so. "Expert in both fields?" Well, my credentials for being an expert in Fatigue and Anemia are posted, but how did you know about the other???

Question 1

No, anemia is not contagious. That was an easy question. Hopefully your roommate is working with his HIV specialist to determine the exact cause of his low red blood cell count or hemoglobin level. Certainly medications, such as AZT (retrovir, combivir, Trizivir), are a strong possibility, if he's on any of these. There are many other potential causes as well - iron deficiency; vitamin deficiency; blood loss; opportunistic infections, such as TB, MAC, or parvovirus B19; and even HIV itself. Once the cause or causes are identified, specific treatment can be given. If, for instance, he is iron-deficient, iron supplements would be recommended. If, on the other hand, the anemia is caused by AZT or HIV itself (anemia of chronic disease), then Procrit should be considered. Procrit stimulates the production of new red blood cells. It's highly effective, remarkably safe, and self-administered once-per-week with a small injection given just under the skin. It's been shown to improve energy levels and quality of life in HIV-positive folks suffering from anemia. It's even associated with improved survival. So have your roommate get his anemia evaluated and properly treated.

Question 2

The real story with oral sex? Sounds like the name of a porno movie documentary. OK, here's what we know. When it comes to oral sex, you just have to use your head (so to speak). Is oral sex safe? There are different levels of risk (or safety), depending on which sexually transmitted disease we are talking about and the type of oral sex.

STDs that cause sores and blisters, like syphilis or herpes, are quite easy to get form all types of oral sex - getting or giving. STDs without sores or blisters, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and NGU (non-gonococcal urethritis) are also possible from sucking and getting sucked. Hepatitis A, intestinal parasites, and herpes can be passed on through rimming without a barrier. It's easier to get or spread STDs when sores, blisters, or discharge ("the drip") are present.

OK, so you knew all that and you want to know about HIV, right? In general, most experts, myself included, would consider oral sex a "low risk" activity. However, remember, low risk does not mean "no risk." The actual scientifically studied and actual measured risk is unknown. Can you imagine trying to conduct such a study? I can see the brochures now: "Oral Sex Study - Get Head for Science!" What we do know is that HIV is not easy to get from any kind of oral sex. However, there are some documented cases of getting HIV from sucking ("giving head.") Certainly, bleeding gums, gum disease, and sores in the mouth can make it easier to get infected with HIV through oral sex. There are no well-documented cases of getting HIV from getting sucked. There are no well-documented cases of getting HIV from rimming or getting rimmed. It is much easier to get HIV from anal sex without a condom than from oral sex without a condom.

Only you and your partner can decide what you will and won't do sexually. This is called "negotiated risk." OK, so now you've been told. So, use your head!

Your last questions are also quite easy. Can you give head at the circuit party next weekend? Well, of course you can. It's really not all that difficult, technically speaking. The question is do you want to and what level of risk are you comfortable with.

Last, can you "get head" at the circuit party? Well, how would I know that? You didn't forward a picture along with your question.

OK, horny dude, thanks for writing in and enjoy the party. Remember to use your head wisely!

Dr. Bob


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