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French Kissing Risk: Should I ask my Magic 8 ball?
Jan 9, 2010

Dr. Frascino,

After surveying expert forums on the 'net, it appears experts are not in agreement over whether french kissing is a significant risk for HIV. Here are examples on what I've seen so far:

thebody.com:

You frequently tell people their HIV acquisition risk is "essentially nonexistent" and testing is not warranted, because saliva is not infectious enough to transmit HIV. Only extenuating circumstances would warrant testing (visible blood, recent dental surgery, etc).

medhelp.org:

The experts here say french kissing does not transmit HIV, even when blood is present.

netwellness.org:

The experts here pretty much say the exchange of any bodily fluid, including saliva, poses a risk of HIV transmission. They tell people to get tested always when the only risk was french kissing.

I'm starting to question the known routes of HIV transmission within HIV medicine as a whole, because experts cannot agree on what is a significant risk.

I'm yielding towards asking my Magic 8 ball on what considered a risk or not. The answers may be the same and as divergent as to what I am seeing on expert forums.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

I'm not responsible for what other Internet sites choose to publish on their websites. It does appear that both this site and Medline agree the HIV risk from French kissing is "essentially nonexistent." We differ only in the extenuating circumstance of blood being present. However, there is general consensus that HIV-infected blood inside the mouth is a potential HIV risk, as the mouth is lined with a mucous membrane, which can absorb HIV. Also, there is always the possibility of an oral lesion (ulcer, trauma, gingivitis, bleeding gums, etc.), which would increase the risk if fresh HIV-positive blood were present.

I know nothing about the NetWellness site. But considering its statement about "saliva" and "any bodily fluid," I can assure you they know nothing about HIV transmission!

Use your Magic 8 ball if you wish. However, I think common sense and sticking to well-respected HIV information Web sites would be far wiser

Dr. Bob



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