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CAN HIV BE PASSED THROUGH SALIVA?
Jul 15, 2002

I AM A HIGH SCHOOL HEALTH TEACHER AND I HAVE BEEN TAUGHT THAT HIV CAN NOT BE PASSED THROUGH SALIVA. RECENTLY I HAVE BEEN HEARING THAT IT NOW APPEARS AS THOUGHT IT CAN BE PASSED THROUGH SALIVA. WHAT IS TRUE?

Response from Mr. Kull

I am not aware of any new evidence that suggests that HIV can be passed through saliva. The saliva of HIV infected people contains little to no virus, and the virus that is found in saliva is often inactive (not infectious). Studies have found that a protein in saliva inactivates HIV (up to 90% of virus was inactivated in one test tube study) and other factors that may contribute to the noninfectious quality of saliva. This is why transmission through kissing, receiving oral sex, or other forms of contact with saliva doesn't seem to occur.

If HIV were transmitted through saliva, we would probably be looking at a much larger epidemic.

RMK



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