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HTLV and oral sex

Mar 18, 1999

My partner was recently diagnosis as HTLV positive. I currently test negative. What are my risks of getting the disease by giving him unprotected oral sex. We do currently use condoms for intercourse. What precautions should I be taking ?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question. It has been published in the medical literature that HTLV-I can be transmitted through both unprotected intercourse, and through giving oral sex as well. We would expect that this would be true for HTLV-II as well. This should come as no surprise since it is known that the HTLV viruses are transmitted in ways similar to that of HIV.

If you were giving your partner oral sex (especially if there was ejaculation), then you would be considered at risk of infection (although the risk would be less than unprotected intercourse). Since the HTLV viruses and HIV are transmitted in similar ways, information regarding HIV and oral sex, also applies to the HTLV viruses as well (although it has been suggested that the HTLV viruses are less infectious than HIV). You may want to consider getting tested for HTLV, especially if he ejaculated in your mouth.

Safer sex practices that will protect you against HIV, will also protect you against the HTLV viruses as well. For more information about how to reduce your risks of infection for HTLV, HIV, and other STDs while giving oral sex, see the posting, Latex Condoms For Oral Sex? You Gotta Be Kidding!.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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