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Transmission through kissing with gum issues
Jan 6, 2014

Hi Dr. Shannon and thank you for this wonderful forum!

I read through archive answers but I am not sure I have the answer to my questions. I did some deep kissing with three individuals in one night (yes, it was a challenge on a drinking game we faced). All of the other individuals have had multiple sexual (I assume protected) contacts but have never been tested. I am worried because I have swollen loose/opening gum around one of my wisdom teeth, which has been open (and occasionally only bleeding) for some time now. The next day I noticed I also had a small cut on my lip (not sure if it was bleeding the previous night). I did not notice anyone having bleeding lips/teeth (but it was dark and I wasn't staring inside there mouths; did not taste blood though). I have three questions.

1. If either of these individuals had some minor lip abrasions/cuts, canker sores or some non-noticeable gum issues (no gushing blood), would that be a real risk of transmission from them? Could minor gum bleeding (like after toothbrushing) during kissing pose risk for the other party?

2. Does my open/swollen gum issue around my wisdom tooth create more risk for transmission to me if it's not visibly bleeding but reddish?

3. If I were to have HIV and kiss someone with lip cuts or canker sores given my wisdom tooth gum condition, could I pose risk for them (if it's not bleeding but swollen and reddish)? What it there is a tiny amount of blood in that deep gum crack behind the wisdom tooth that can get carried in small bits through the saliva while kissing?

I would really appreciate an answer as I have been stressing out (hopefully unnecessarily). Thank you so much and sorry for worrying about all of these!!

Response from Ms. Southall

Hi The risk of HIV transmission with oral sex is extremely low. It is even reasonable to state that for the person receiving oral sex (that is on whom oral sex is being performed) the risk of acquisition of the virus is practically zero. For the person placing his or her mouth on someone else's genitals, the risk may be slightly higher but still very very low. Theoretically, obvious cuts, wounds, sores, or infections in the mouth could raise this risk. But relatively speaking this is still considered to be a low-risk sexual activity as the mouth is not a hospitable place for the HIV virus. Please note that other sexually transmitted infections are readily spread via oral contact and you may need to be checked for these.

With all that being said, HIV transmission through kissing is not possible and with sores or open cuts the risk does increase some but not much. It is still highly unlikely to get HIV from this situation. It is likely to get other infections or bacterias, such as herpes.

HIV transmission through casual contact is not a risk factor. Sharing utensils, drinking after someone or eating after someone etc.

Be well and stay safe, Shannon



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