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A Study???
Mar 1, 2003

I recently read the following:

"In June 2002, a study conducted amongst 135 HIV-negative Spanish heterosexuals, who were in a sexual relationship with a person who was HIV-positive, reported that over 19,000 instances of unprotected oral sex had not lead to any cases of HIV transmission. The study also looked at contributing factors that could effect the potential transmission of HIV through oral sex. They monitored viral load and asked questions such as whether ejaculation in the mouth occurred and how good oral health was. Amongst HIV-positive men, 34 per cent had ejaculated into the mouths of their partners. Viral load levels were available for 60 people in the study, 10 per cent of whom had levels over 10,000 copies. Nearly 16 per cent of the HIV-positive people had CD4 counts below 200. The study, conducted over a ten year period between 1990 and 2000, adds to the growing number of studies which suggest varying levels of risk of HIV transmission from oral sex when compared to anal or vaginal intercourse."

I was wondering if you were familiar with this study and its pertinent details? From a lay person's perspective, it seems that the risk of contracting HIV from performing oral sex is practically non-existent, given these very large numbers. Your interpretation would be most helpful!!!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

You read a study that said, "In June of 2002, a study conducted amongst 135 HIV-negative Spanish heterosexuals who were in a sexual relationship with a person who was HIV-positive . . . . !" Wow, that must have been one busy guy. I'll bet he was Italian. Right?

OK, seriously, I haven't reviewed this study in great detail, but it appears to be just one of a series of recent reports all showing exactly the same thing. Oral sex carries a very low risk of HIV transmission. "Practically non-existent" is, of course, a relative term. We can't say oral sex is completely safe, but evidence is certainly mounting that confirms it is certainly not an efficient or easy means of contracting the virus!

My interpretation? The guy who got the 19,000 blowjobs is a very lucky dude! OK, OK, seriously, we can't say oral sex is safe, but we can certainly say it's much, much safer than unprotected vaginal or anal sex.

Thanks for writing.

Dr. Bob



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