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Saliva as a barrier
Dec 19, 2001

Hello Ryan, I am a male who while under the influence of alcohol engaged, against my better judgement in a low risk encounter, I was given a blow job and was also rimmed. I've been going through some anxious moments over this encounter since I don't know the HIV status of the person involved. I will probably get tested just for the peace of mind I heard that saliva acts as a barrier against HIV. I can't seem to find any information on this topic. Do you think I'm at risk? and could you please shed some light on the saliva issue? Thank's Ryan.

Response from Mr. Kull

It may not be completely accurate to describe saliva as a barrier to HIV. The most important thing to remember is that there is no evidence that saliva transmits HIV. This makes your risk for infection practically negligible.

The saliva of infected people contains little to no virus, and the virus that is found in saliva is often inactive (not infectious). Studies have found that a protein in saliva inactivates HIV (up to 90% of virus was inactivated in one test tube study) and other factors that may contribute to the noninfectious quality of saliva. This is why transmission through kissing or receiving oral sex doesn't seem to occur.

This does not mean that saliva will PROTECT you from infection. While the proteins in saliva may reduce the risk of transmission to a person performing oral sex (it may explain the low-risk nature of oral sex), saliva does not serve as a barrier to HIV transmission during oral sex. People can still be infected when performing oral sex, even though the risk is much lower than vaginal or anal sex.

RMK



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