|How susceptible are the mucous membranes?
Jan 21, 2014
Pretty short question but I am curious. You hear horror stories about someone who contracts hiv via mucous membrane exposure but those are supposed to be rare. How susceptible are the mucous membranes in the mouth, nose and eyes to hiv? An exposure to those areas definitely isn't like having sex or sharing needles is it?
| Response from Ms. Southall
Hi Carl Yes you are correct. HIV transmission can only occur when there is a direct and prolonged exposure to body fluids, semen, vaginal fluid, blood or mother to child through breast feeding. This most commonly occurs through unprotected vaginal or anal sex and sharing of needles. Casual contact, sharing utensils, drinking after someone, etc are not way for HIV transmission to occur. If you go to this link HIV101 it will take you to our page that talks about the ways in which HIV is and is not transmitted. 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.
Mucous membranes are a way for HIV transmission to occur but there needs to be a significant amount of blood, semen or vaginal fluid for this to occur.
Be well and stay safe, Shannon
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