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Why do you say unprotected oral sex is a HIV risk?
Feb 20, 2013

Dear Sirs, why do you insist in saying that there is a risk involved in unprotected oral sex when Dr. Hunter Handsfield, winner of the prestigious Thomas Parran Award, commented: "There is no debate (among experts) about the HIV risks associated with oral sex. The risk is so low that almost nobody who cares for HIV infected patients has ever had a patient believed to have been infected that way. Among experts, it's a semantic issue about using terms like "no risk" and "very low risk". There is no difference between my or Dr. Hook's use of "low risk" and other experts' "no risk"."

This seems a contradiction to the information this website gives. If there is no evidence then surely there is no risk? Do you say there is some risk because you have a legal obligation to, or to protect yourself? If so, that's not giving out the correct information.

Thanks James

Response from Mr. Cordova

Hi James:

You pose a great question. For this great question I imagine we might have many different answers. Here is mine...

I believe (based on the evidence we have) that transmission of HIV via oral sex is unlikely. Is it still possible? I think under extreme circumstances it is possible. Gum disease, flossing, and vigorous brushing can all increase the risk.

I believe that people who are engaging in unprotected oral sex understand that there is a risk for transmission EVEN if it is low, or theoretical.

In regards to the statement "almost nobody who cares for HIV infected patients has ever had a patient believed to have been infected that way." - that is probably true. The challenge with oral sex and HIV transmission is that for most people who are infected, they were engaging in other high-risk behaviors at the same time; it's hard to say where the transmission occurred (orally or elsewhere.

I will be happily change my stance on oral sex to "no risk" when that is the generally accepted rule of thumb. Until then, I acknowledge oral sex as "low-risk", and not something that warrants testing on its own.

I hope this helps.

In health,

Richard



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