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Transmission via oral sex
Dec 5, 2000

Hi, you have stated many many times regard to receiving oral sex is in low risk since genital only exposed to saliva. But from my point of view (perhaps I'm wrong), in case if the person (giving oral sex) has bleeding gum, dental work or sore in there mouth, blood may well be mixture into saliva and there is possible for genital to be contacted with blood. Any idea ?? Thanks.

Response from Mr. Kull

Please remember, low-risk, or even extremely low-risk, doesn't mean no-risk. I will never say that one CANNOT get infected with HIV when there has been some type of sexual contact with another person. Determining the likelihood of transmission is a combination of knowledge of how viruses and the human body work with data on how people are actually infected in the world.

It is highly unlikely that someone would get HIV infected when receiving oral sex from an HIV positive person when their genitals are only exposed to the infected person's saliva. Saliva is not implicated as a fluid that causes infection.

HIV infected blood coming into contact with a mucous membrane is much higher risk. Receiving oral sex from an infected person with blood in their mouth is a risk. There has been one case reported in the medical literature of HIV infection happening this way (please see Rick's response to Are there any reported cases of someone getting HIV infected by receiving oral sex?). It is not clear how much blood needs to be present to infect another person.

Bleeding gums or sores probably don't TRANSMIT HIV, but it is hard to determine for sure. Infected people with recent dental work performing oral sex on others probably represent a tiny and insignificant portion of the population.

RMK



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