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why do some say risk?
Jul 18, 2001

Dear Ryan

Why do some doctors say that there is a small risk of hiv infection from recieving oral sex and others say that there is no risk? I would think that if there were any risk there would at least be a couple of documented cases after 20 years especially since mant more people do not use condems when having oral sex even if they do use them during vaginal and anal sex. Also if recieving oral sex were to become a risky practice I would imagine that kissing would as well do you agree?

Response from Mr. Kull

You are right on target with most of your assumptions. It is not accurate to say that there is "no risk" when a person has sexual contact with another person, regardless of the likelihood of transmission. That's why you hear people say that there is a "theoretical" risk of transmission associated with certain activity, even if there are no documented cases of transmission through that activity. See the CDC's fact sheet "What you should know about oral sex" (http://thebody.com/cdc/oralsex.html) for more information about this topic.

Saliva--though it can contain low-levels of HIV--is not implicated as a fluid that causes infection. This is based on the epidemiological data that we have (there is no evidence that anyone has been infected through saliva alone). The only real risk of HIV infection occurring to the person receiving oral sex is if their partner is HIV infected and has blood present in their mouth.

RMK



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