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Sep 16, 1996

ORAL SEX STDS HelloI am curious as to which sexual diseases can be transmitted through insertive oral sex. I understand that HIV is low risk but what diseases could be spread by someones saliva and what would be their symptoms?.Thank-you PAT

Response from Mr. Sowadsky


Thank you for your post.

In terms of receiving oral sex, the risk is very low for HIV and most other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's). Probably the biggest risk would be for herpes. When a person has a "cold sore" on their lip, this is the herpes virus. If they have oral herpes and they give you oral sex, you could get genital herpes this way. Herpes is transmitted by direct physical contact with the blistery lesion that the herpes virus causes. The herpes virus can be transmitted at any time, but is by far most infectious when the person has symptoms due to the herpes virus (tingling sensation at the site of infection, and blistery painful lesions). So when a person has symptoms due to a "cold sore" (oral herpes), you would be at risk of getting genital herpes if they gave you oral sex.

You could potentially get other STD's by receiving oral sex as well, such as syphilis and Hepatitis B, but the risks are generally quite low.

However, I must emphasize that if you are GIVING another person oral sex, your risks of infection with HIV and other STD's is much much higher. While giving oral sex, you would be at high risk for HIV, Gonorrhea, Herpes, Hepatitis B, and other STD's as well. For some diseases, while giving oral sex, you would be exposed to pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, and menstrual blood which could contain some STD's (such as HIV and Hepatitis B). While giving oral sex, you may be exposed to discharges which could cause infections such as Gonorrhea. You could also be exposed to lesions which can lead to other STD's, such as Herpes. So giving oral sex is much riskier than receiving oral sex. But overall, vaginal or anal intercourse is still higher risk than oral sex, but oral sex is NOT totally safe (especially if you are giving oral sex to another person).

It's important to remember that HIV is not the only incurable STD. Any of the viral STD's (such as Hepatitis B, Herpes, Genital Warts etc) are also incurable. And HIV is not the only potentially fatal STD. Diseases like Hepatitis B, HTLV-I, and Syphilis are also potentially fatal. We must therefore stress that safer sex does not just apply to applies to all STD's!

So in summary, for receiving oral sex, the risks generally are lower than giving oral sex and intercourse, but you can still get STD's such as Herpes.

If you have further questions, please e-mail me at "" or call me at 1-800-842-AIDS.

Hepatitis B
Viral (Aseptic) Meningitis

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