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STD from oral sex
May 5, 2003

About a week ago I performed oral sex on a woman without using protection. My tounge has had a slight burning sensation since I did this. Can I have contracted HIV or a STD.

Response from Mr. Kull

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. The general 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. When performing oral sex on a female, the mouth is more likely to come into contact with vaginal secretions, which suggests that the risk is lower than penetrative sex.

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.

You can get certain STDs by performing oral sex on a person, but STD transmission is most likely to occur during genital-to-genital contact. Some STDs that are present as sores or lesions on the skin, like herpes, HPV, and syphilis, may be transmitted to you by having oral contact with the infected areas. Other STDs that are transmitted by fluids or infected mucous membranes in the penis, like gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and syphilis, can also infect you orally.

For more about transmission through oral sex, see the CDC's fact sheet on oral transmission

RMK



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