how safe is oral sex?
Aug 28, 2002
If i perform oral sex on my new girlfriend how safe is it for me (I know it's safe for her 'cos I'm confident i have no infections)I don't know much about her sexual history
Response from Mr. Kull
The bottom line is that there are only a few cases documented by the CDC that demonstrate HIV transmission to a person performing oral sex on a woman. This is the best evidence that the risk of transmission through cunnilingus is very low.
This means that HIV transmission is possible when performing oral sex on an HIV infected woman, but the likelihood of transmission seems very low.
The risk of HIV transmission through oral sex is low when compared to unprotected vaginal and anal sex. The reasons for this, in part, have to do with biological differences: simply put, HIV seems to have a more difficult time causing infection when introduced to the mucous membranes of the mouth (saliva may provide additional protection and the cells in the mouth may not be as prone to infection). Secondly, the concentrations of HIV in vaginal secretions seem much lower than the concentrations of HIV in cervical secretions and menstrual blood. Some sources suggest that vaginal fluids dilute the more infectious fluid, decreasing the chances of transmission to someone's mouth.
It is important that you do not perform unprotected oral sex on a woman when she is menstruating (blood has a much higher concentration of HIV), and if you are experiencing any problems with your oral health (sores, abrasions, inflammation). If you would like to decrease the risk of transmission even further, you can use a latex barrier--like a dental dam or a condom cut into a square--between your partner's vagina and your mouth.
For more about transmission through oral sex, see the CDC's fact sheet on oral transmission .
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