Saliva like a barrier?
Sep 7, 2005
Dear Dr. Brian! First of all I want to tell you that you're providing a fantastic service to all the persons who need to know more on HIV. Your answers are very useful and you're a good person that treats with the right sensibility all our concerns. My question is the following. I searched on the net and found out that some studies mentioned the protective functions of saliva to prevent infections from bacteria and viruses. For this reason our mouth has this secretion due to the many contacts the mucous membranes have with germs and other micro organisms from the outer environment. Could saliva be a sort of barrier against HIV? We all know that saliva doesn't have enough virus for infection and that indeed it has properties that kills it. In a study of the Robert Koch Institute of Germany it comes out that infected blood mixed with a significant quantity of saliva could inactivate the virus and protect against infection. It would be interesting to know if this protective properties of saliva could be extend to other situations and circumstances. What is your opinion about this? Please excuse my english I'm not american. Thank you very much for attention.
Response from Dr. Conway
Saliva certainly contains enzymes that would inactivate HIV to a great extent, but not reliably (especially if there is some lesion in the mouth that would allow the virus to access the cells it likes to infect).
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