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low risk vs. no risk

Jul 28, 2002

I know the last thing you want is another question about kissing, but I feel confused. Sometimes you say that this is a 'low-risk' activity, yet from your previous answers, my impression is that it is virtually no risk - is that a correct assumption? I guess my question is would you even recommend testing if the only exposure was by french kissing? Thanks, I am due to get married soon and really don't want to expose my partner if there is any risk that I might be infected from previous episodes of french kissing with others.

Response from Mr. Kull

An activity that involves contact with fluids that potentially carry HIV can never be described as "no-risk". This is because any time a person has contact with HIV infected fluids, transmission must be considered as a possibility.

Possibility does not translate into probability. Probability of transmission is usually described in terms of low or high risk. Low risk means that there is a low probability of transmission. This is usually measured through understanding the biology and mechanics of HIV combined with epidemiological information (the study of the transmission of HIV within populations/people).

Since there is no clear evidence that HIV is transmitted through kissing, it would be easier to say that there is no risk associated to that, but that could be considered innaccurate. It is probably more accurate to say that the likelihood of transmission is "extremely low" or "negligible" because there is no evidence that transmission happens this way.

The fact that the risk of transmission through kissing is so low should hopefully indicate to you how you should proceed. Testing is not recommended, and the risk of transmission to you or your partner through kissing is not a realistic concern.


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