Oral Sex: What's the Real Risk for HIV?
April 28, 2017
Table of Contents
The chances of HIV being passed from one person to another depend on the type of contact. HIV is most easily spread or transmitted through unprotected anal sex, unprotected vaginal sex, and sharing injection drug equipment. Unprotected sex means sex in which no condoms, other barriers, or treatment-as-prevention methods (different ways of using HIV drugs to lower risk of HIV transmission) are used.
Oral sex involves contact between the mouth and the genitals. It includes giving or receiving licking, sucking, or biting of the vulva (vagina, clitoris, and labia, or "lips"), penis, or anus. Under most circumstances, oral sex poses little to no risk of spreading HIV. Oral sex may not be risk-free, but it has been shown to be much less risky than the activities described above.
HIV is present in female sexual fluid (vaginal secretions), male sexual fluids ("cum" and "pre-cum"), and blood. HIV cannot be spread through saliva (spit). One of these other fluids must be present, and there must be a way for them to enter the HIV-negative person's bloodstream (such as mouth sores or genital ulcers), for HIV transmission to be possible.
It is possible to get other sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs or STDs), such as syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea, and human papilloma virus (HPV) through oral sex. HIV treatment as prevention does not protect against STIs other than HIV.
Studies on the Risks of Oral Sex
Oral sex is a low-risk activity for HIV. Factors that increase the risk of HIV transmission through oral sex include having bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, gum disease, genital sores, and other sexually transmitted infections. Several reports suggest that people have acquired HIV through oral sexual activity in rare instances. A number of studies have tried to figure out the exact level of risk of oral sex, but it can be difficult to get accurate information. When HIV is spread, it is difficult to tell if it was the oral sex or another, more risky sexual activity that was responsible for transmitting HIV.
The take home message is that oral sex may, under certain circumstances, carry a small but real risk of HIV transmission.
Tips for Safer Oral Sex
Oral sex is more risky if you or your partner:
- has an untreated sexually transmitted infection
- has bleeding gums, mouth ulcers (open sores), or gum disease
- takes ejaculate (semen, or cum) in the mouth
- puts your mouth on the genitals of a woman who is menstruating (bleeding)
- has genital sores
There are things you can do to lower the risk associated with oral sex:
- Do not have oral sex if you or your partner has mouth sores (such as oral herpes lesions)
- Look at your partner's genitals for lesions (cuts, scrapes, or sores)
- If you find something, avoid contact with the area until a health care provider examines it. Very rarely are genital lesions the result of the heat, the weather, or someone's clothes.
- Do not floss, brush your teeth, or do anything that would create cuts or cause bleeding in your mouth before performing oral sex. Use a breath mint instead.
- Avoid swallowing pre-cum, semen, vaginal fluids, or menstrual blood
- Use latex condoms for oral sex on a man (fellatio)
- Try the flavored ones that come without lube on them
- If you perform oral sex without a condom, finish up with your hand, or spit semen out rather than swallowing it
- Use a dental dam or cut-open condom for oral sex on a woman (cunnilingus) or for rimming (licking the anus)
- Dental dams are squares made from latex. Put some water-based lube on one side of the dental dam, or a condom that has been cut open. Then stretch the dam or condom over the vulva or anus with the lubed side facing down. This gives you a thin barrier between your mouth and the vagina or anus. Some people use plastic food wrap as a barrier. While plastic wrap has been shown to prevent the transmission of herpes infections, there has been no research on its effectiveness in preventing HIV transmission.
- Avoid vaginal oral sex when a woman is menstruating (having her period or cycle) to prevent contact with blood
- Take care of your mouth. The chances of getting HIV from oral sex increase if you have bleeding gums, ulcers, cuts, sores, or infections in the mouth.
- Use alternatives
- Try massage or mutual masturbation
- Try a vibrator (use a condom and put on a new condom when sharing)
- Avoid giving a man oral sex if his penis is bruising your throat or tonsils (sometimes caused by "deep-throating"), or if you experience injuries around your mouth
Taking Care of Yourself
While the risk of becoming infected through unprotected oral sex is lower than that of unprotected anal or vaginal sex, it is not risk-free. If you or your partner is living with HIV (HIV+), it is important that you decide what steps to take to make all types of sex safer (see our fact sheet on safer sex). It is also important to remember that having bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, or gum disease and taking cum or menstrual blood in your mouth can make oral sex more risky. If you would like to discuss these issues, see a sex educator or health care provider at your local AIDS service organization (ASO) or treatment center. To find an ASO in your area, click here. For services worldwide, please use AIDSmap's e-atlas.
Adapted from original article written by LM Arnal.
This article was provided by The Well Project
. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
Comment by: James Malema
(Pretoria Republic of South Africa )
Tue., Aug. 23, 2016 at 4:04 pm UTC
We are both HIV positive and both on ARV's. So can we have sex while she's on her periods?
Comment by: rehman
(chennai tn india)
Fri., Nov. 27, 2015 at 7:32 am UTC
hello sir today i had sex for the first time with a prostitute. i used condom but i licked her dry vagina for 4 to 5 seconds.do i get hiv.thank you
Comment by: George paul
Thu., Aug. 27, 2015 at 5:38 pm UTC
Apart from the risk involed i think sucking a womans vagina is the dirtiest thing to do on earth
Comment by: oratile
Sun., Aug. 16, 2015 at 10:41 am UTC
Can anyone tell me if HIV can affect someone while kissing and the partmer gums bleeds but both are negative
Comment by: Achly
(New Orleans )
Thu., Jun. 4, 2015 at 3:19 am UTC
I had oral sex and I swallaw the semen from giv positive man one week ago and I okready having the signs for the aids disease such as itchiness headche sore throught and rashes inside my mouth please answer me I'm scare do I imagine that happen to me is not tru because is too early or what please answe me
Comment by: prittah
Wed., May. 6, 2015 at 12:07 am UTC
please help am to die coz of ur article its making mi to feel as if am to die the next few minutes, ok i had my xoo swit guy whom i truely loved n currently i cant let him go, when we knew each other i couldnt denay anything i used to give him a sweet blowjob n in some instances i could enjoy licking his sperms n after an year he confessed to me he was positive n him to never wanted to breakup with mi we went both for a test coz he wanted to proove he was poz n wi got that he was n i was negative, i never giveup with him coz i loved we are still in love and i have changed i never lick his sperms anymore from that time, but the time that i licked them can i be poz for real ok we used to make love n some times we use codoms n some we dont coz i may say he iz intelligent he sprickles out sperms and cleans both of us morever he seems to care about mi coz wherever he notices he has a mouth problem he never let me to kiss or expose my self to him am worried can i be having aids? i love him should i leave him? HELP!
Comment by: Steve Nelson
Mon., Jul. 28, 2014 at 4:43 am UTC
I absolutely REFUSE to perform oral sex on a guy who is wearing a condom; first of all, I think it's stupid, second, it tastes terrible (even with "flavored" condoms...YUCK!) and third, when I take a guy into my mouth, I want to taste his penis, and fourth, I am allergic to latex anyway, and it REALLY makes me angry when a guy starts to unroll a condom on me without asking if it's ok, because a lot of people are severely allergic, like me, and when someone does this to me, I have to go and wash thoroughly, and even then, it is still often too late! I have performed and received oral sex with full ejaculation with men since I was 19, and I am now 42....and NEGATIVE! I test every 2-3 months, too. As far as I'm concerned, the guys who swear up and down that they got it from oral sex are not being honest, and this stems from the fact that they are just never going to admit to receptive anal sex, because with lots of guys, they're not gay as long as they are never the bottom. Call it internalized homophobia, whatever, but I just do not believe that, under normal circumstances, i.e., no cuts or sores on the genitals or in the mouth and thus, no easy pathways into the bloodstream, that HIV is transmitted this way!
The CDC will never say that oral sex is safe because as soon as they do, some liar is going to come forward and claim that they got HIV in this way....and then sue them. It's the same thing with concern to mosquitoes being able to transmit HIV; I believe that they most likely can and do, but the CDC says this is impossible because mosquitoes "don't live long enough to incubate" and spread the virus! REALLY? That's funny, since we know for a fact that a cold, non-living needle that's been used on an HIV positive person can and most likely WILL transmit this virus to another person, and I'm pretty sure a needle can't "incubate", either! Also, there are MANY unexplained cases of people contracting HIV who had NO risks!
Comment by: John
Sat., Dec. 7, 2013 at 5:44 pm UTC
Whilst away I recd a blowjob from a prostitute. She put a condom on my penis using her mouth and then continued to perform a blowjob for about 5 minutes. I then took the condom off and came on her tits. I performed a water test on the condom afterwards and there were no leaks or drips. I now have an itch on the end of my penis. Did the condom work? I am very concerned that I may have got HIV or an std, I have a wife and kids and did a stupid thing. What are the risks?
Comment by: Shaun
Fri., Nov. 22, 2013 at 12:03 am UTC
I has oral sex with a girl recently, I only licked her clitoris for a brief period. We then had protected sex. 3 days latter I developed flu like symptons, now 6 weeks on I have a very dry tickley cough, should I be worried?
Comment by: uneasy
Tue., Oct. 29, 2013 at 4:29 pm UTC
a call girl performed oral sex on me. I want to know what is the risk and should I must get tested.
Comment by: robert
Wed., Sep. 25, 2013 at 8:11 pm UTC
tube oral sex but not ejaculated
lubricate or am I at risk
Comment by: cougz
Tue., May. 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm UTC
i have a couple of ulcers on my tongue and have noticed a few red spots at the back of my mouth.i have a sore throat too, i performed oral sex four days ago and took semen into my mouth and swallowed, could this be the cause of my mouth issues at the moment/?
Comment by: sujan das
Sun., Apr. 28, 2013 at 11:53 am UTC
what i do after sex for panis take care?
Comment by: Mr khan
Thu., Apr. 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm UTC
HI.........we had just a body play...... partner licked my body fully and he put my penis in his mouth eventually i felt down(ejaculate) there was no sore and cut on his mouth.............so,is there any risk of HIV for both or any one? ............
Comment by: Anonymous
Tue., Feb. 26, 2013 at 9:24 am UTC
i have done the blow job with another gal and she is hiv, so i am worried that can i be infected also,
Comment by: Anonymous
Mon., Oct. 1, 2012 at 6:57 pm UTC
I was wondering if this site could add how small or large a risk oral sex is. For example if it is a 1% chance of getting it per act. I just think it might be helpful thanks.
Comment by: kay
Wed., May. 30, 2012 at 7:56 am UTC
I woukd like to know,can I get hiv/aids if both my patrtner and I are not infected?.... And if u have oral sex wth two different people.... But a few years apart?....
Comment by: jojo
Wed., Oct. 26, 2011 at 9:39 am UTC
Comment by: robert s
Thu., Jul. 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm UTC
can one get hiv from receiving oral sex from an hiv positive person?
Comment by: Neo
Tue., Jun. 28, 2011 at 9:14 am UTC
My husband of 7 years was just diagnosed with HIV on the 24th of June 2011. We have had constant problems for years with his cheating escapades. I tried leaving him but loved him too much. The last straw was when I found out that the girl he was cheating on me with is apparently pregnant. We both went for testing on the 24th and I was negative yet he was. My worry is he did expose me to it that morning before we went so I have to go back in 3 months to get tested. We have a 14 months year old baby and I am so angry with him that he exposed himself to such danger. I am also angry with myself for not being enough of a woman to keep him from cheating. Had I been enough for him he would not be sick. The last we did a test together we were both -ve. It’s my entire fault that I let my son down. I am scared that my son is going to grow up without parents because of my inability to satisfy my husband enough. Had I been woman enough I wouldn’t be feeling so much pain. How do i explain to my son that his father was driven away by my ambition in life? How do I tell him that due to the fact that I always pushed his father to be the best he could be in life, meant I was pushing him away? My family told me to leave him so many times, the love I felt for him was too deep to just walk away. Now I will find out in 3 months if I will be paying with it with my life for loving a man too much. Well I blame no one but myself. I take the responsibility for my actions and even though I might be +ve I will try to live to the best of my ability and create wonderful memories for my son. The wait is just killing me though. I still love this man of mine for I will not leave him now!
I am just scared!
Comment by: yuner
Thu., Jan. 6, 2011 at 11:56 am UTC
Funny how it is always gay men who claim they got hiv from oral sex. Because they never, ever had anal sex without a condom. Of course not. Even though studies have shown the risk to be effectively zero. It is known hiv must have certain cells for infection to occur, and that these cells are almost completely absent from the oral cavity. The tonsils may be a possible rute, but even researches whi cite this theory claim it is very rare, and the risk, at most is 0.04% per episode. That number I believe, was arrived at from the 8 gay men out 122 study who claimed oral as the only route. Whatever. At medhelp, Dr's Handsfield, Hook, Cummings amd the rest state that
they have never seen or read of a convincing case, but of course we will continue to have some people claim that must be how they got it, despite no doubt episodes of unprotected anal or vaginal sex.
Comment by: Daniel
Tue., Jan. 4, 2011 at 2:39 am UTC
Though it is believed that oral sex is less infectious to Hiv, people should be carefull how they practice it.
Comment by: Jim
Tue., Nov. 16, 2010 at 1:55 am UTC
Steve A. : My thoughts exactly! Oral sex with a condom on is a HUGE turn-off, and I, too, concur with your assertion about how many "straight" guys only see receptive anal sex (and not oral sex) as an inherently "homosexual" activity, and are therefore very likely to lie about what it was that they were actually doing that got them exposed. And, the CDC remark you made is also spot-on; they're just afraid of getting sued, period. You, like myself and many, many others I know, only ever engaged in oral sex, and yes, at the mid-40's mark, are still.......HIV negative. I simply just do not believe that oral sex carries much of a risk at all, and as such, I will continue to perform oral sex up to and including swallowing semen as well. And as for some of you religious zealots on here, "getting right with God" does not prevent nor cure disease; if it makes you feel like you are or will be cured, more power to you. However, please remember that yours is just an opinion, just like the rest of us posting on here. Disease is not a punishment from God for activities that other human beings think are wrong or "sinful". I thought that this type of self-righteous finger-pointing was a thing of the past, along with those insane witchcraft trials which took place in the New England states back in 1692.
Comment by: Bintu
Sun., Nov. 7, 2010 at 8:51 pm UTC
This is very important information for the young people especially, there should be a way of incoporating it in the IEC package that is offered by many of the interventions reaching young people. In developing countries like Uganda where over 80% live in the rural areas where internet is unheard-of, some one should have this information reach the young people through other ways like info leaflets, radio talks, community outreaches etc.
Comment by: Mafilas
Sun., Oct. 31, 2010 at 9:29 am UTC
Hey guys i heard that my girlfriend's ex his wife died of aids, and i am scared, i licked her p*y a lot. I thing i swallowed some of her fluids.
Comment by: Tricia L.
Fri., Oct. 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm UTC
This article was very imformative, I will definitely share this important information with others. It's the small details that go unnoticed that we need to pay attention to.
Comment by: ermes
Fri., Oct. 29, 2010 at 1:37 am UTC
from March to June, I often had intercourse with a Brazilian boy of 32 years, and only oral sex was not protected (because even my doctor always told me that he was safe) the guy always told me to be healthy and HIV- and I believed him because he was a very serious, clean, in fact I never suspected him .. In April I did the test and the result was HIV-.. one day talking about him with an acquaintance, told me to stay away from him as HIV + ... I was calm because I had always used condoms except for oral sex. Since June I attended a guy who hoped to become my boyfriend for a couple of months and then not having more relationships and do my usual test three weeks ago ... and the result was HIV + .. I asked the test of 'HIV in Brazilian boy but denied them to me. And that was proof that he lied about his condition and infect me .. Do you think drug use has weakened my immune system and facilitated the infection?I'm 24 What awaits me now? I am morally destroyed and I fear that my depression has a worse impact on my body, my doctor insisted that I start taking antidepressants and anxiolytics, but I fear it will worsen the situation what do you think?
Plus what should I expect from ARV therapy? The only thing I ever wanted was to find a boyfriend and share everything together, but ... now I can not lie about my health, I must say to my partners who are HIV + .. and already I imagine him away as if I were a leper.
Replies to this comment:
Comment by: salut23
Sun., Dec. 12, 2010 at 3:16 am UTC
hey ermes, did you really only do oral sex?
Comment by: SJALA
(Los Angeles, CA)
Tue., Mar. 22, 2011 at 1:18 am UTC
I just wanted to wish you well and support. Know that you CAN share your life, and your everything with someone, despite the infection. My partner is positive and I am negative-- he disclosed his status up front, on our second date, before we had slept together. I respected his honesty and his regard for my safety, and I didn't even think about not continuing to see him. I will be with him for the long haul-- we love each other very much, share our lives in every way possible, and are very happy living as a serodiscordant couple. Just be honest, protect yourself and others, and the right man will see that honesty and maturity as a wondeful thing-- be he positive or negative. Best wishes.
Comment by: Tony Cooper
Tue., Oct. 26, 2010 at 11:31 pm UTC
I am an avid regular reader of The Body, grateful for its existence. I am also a reeeely long-term HIV+ survivor. After about 20 years of “safer sex,” latex barricading all true intimacy between myself and other men, I just had had enough and decided “hell with it!” Now I bareback exclusively, tho only with other HIV+ men. I know there is supposed to be some threat posed by “mixing” diverse strains of the virus, butt it seems to me that those of us who have survived must be stricken with the same or relatively similar mutations, which is the reason we lived while the entire rest of our generation died. I have met men who have barebacked for years with no apparent ill effects. The physical sensation is beyond liberating, it is ecstatic. To touch, feel, hold, taste, know another man’s private parts, to be inside or have him inside one’s self, is to know his soul, to feel a connectedness with another human being in this fearsome and lonely world. Of course for those who are still uninfected, let them determine if the risk is worthwhile, butt please don’t judge or stigmatize a behavior that has been natural for humans for thousands of years of recorded history and beyond. I personally would never “play” with an HIV- man, butt as an adult, I believe in choices and respect the right of every adult to make a choice for himself and not to placate others. When AIDS first thrust it’s hideous death mask through the dance floor of our frenetically liberated existence last century, we were told that FF was among the highest of high risk behaviors, that oral sex was equivalently dangerous to anal sex. All that has been shown false—I have never heard of a person without cuts or sores on his hands catching the virus thru FFing. Please cut us some slack, let us read and filter your information thru our own minds and experiences, as adults are supposed to. Thank you for letting me express this, tho I know you’ll never print it.
Comment by: Sakinah
Sat., Oct. 23, 2010 at 5:35 am UTC
Hi DJ, I understand how you're feeling right now and so many people have experienced the same. As you read the different blogs people are living with HIV. You definately need to go some support groups and interact with people like you. And reach out to God, He is the creator and the most forgiving and he is the healer. We'll all be tested at some point in our lives, by our wealth, our family and our health. So it's okay to feel a little sad or even angry. But you're a wonderful person and you'll meet some wonderful people from this site. I have a true story to share****My cousin who was a workaholic finally took a week off from work to visit her younger sister. She had been feeling extremely tired, etc., even her staff encouraged her to take some time off. So while she was on her so called vacation, she became extremely ill and went to the ER. They admitted her and informed her after being there 2 days she had AIDS. She couldn't believe it. She called her fiance and her mother and told them the news. When she returned home it was completely bare. He only left her clothes and he wiped out their bank accounts. She was distraught because she had been with him for 10+ yrs and had built a very successful business. Everyone new about it, her staff and customers. Total embarrassment. She came to live with me for a brief moment. She was never a big person. She went from about 140 lbs to 95 lbs. It was so sad. But she found her faith and a loving and supporting family and made a come back. "AWESOME", SHE IS HEALTHY AND LIVING WITH HIV, SHE MET A WONDERFUL MAN AND GOT MARRIED, SHE LOST SOME CUSTOMERS BECAUSE SHE IS A COSMETOLOGIST, BUT GAINED MANY MORE, HER SHOP IS IN A BETTER AND MORE BEAUTIFUL LOCATION, HER WEIGHT IS BACK UP, HER COMPLEXTION HAS CLEARED UP AND YOU CAN'T TELL HER SHE IS NOT BEAUTIFUL AND A DIVA FULL OF LIFE" I LOVE HER SO MUCH. AND WHEN I'M FEELING SAD. I REMEMBER HER FRAIL BODY LAYING ON MY SOFA 7 YRS AGO AND SEE HER NOW. GOD IS GOOD, JUST CALL ON HIM***
Comment by: DJ
Fri., Oct. 22, 2010 at 7:38 pm UTC
IM ONLY 21 AND I HAVE AIDS,I DONT NO WHAT TO DO WITH MY SELF,I LOST MY JOB AND MY GIRLFRIEND...I JUST WANNA END IT ALL,IM SUFFERING EVRYDAY!WHAT WOULD U DO?
Comment by: Julius L
Thu., Oct. 21, 2010 at 8:52 am UTC
Comment for: peter (alabama) Fri., Sep. 17, 2010 at 12:09 am EDT
Peter, if you have not had sex in your life and you are not HIV positive then thank God for it. Do not experiment on sex but decide, get a partner/(wife)let both of you get tested and then settle down in marriage.
We are humanbeings,all created in the image of God.Lets seek and do His Will.
(Busia - Kenya)
Comment by: Carl
Tue., Oct. 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm UTC
Has anyone ever tried to suggest to medhelp or aidsmeds or even thebody,forum frequent answereres that perhaps they need to talk to other healh professionals outside of their HHH, or E.H. doctors ...?
Ever try to doubt their "studies" they so often tout , or try to interject information real world professionals have shared ? They so didn't want to hear a sound, fact based discussion that it resulted in a "ban" from one for giving mis-information ! They are doing a great , dangerous disservice to impressionable folks who think it's ok to go out and blow and go with only a "theoretical risk " .
While I'm on a rant , how about the HHH docs tired assertion that most people don't lie when asked about their status : ARE YOU KIDDING ? Read any positive forum and find out how many guys don't tell and are selfish immoral borderline criminals ! If you had a cancer you could give someone you can damm bet transmision of that with prior knowledge and not disclosing would get you convicted .
There is not one clinician, nurse or doctor I've talked with that didn't think I was right out of the dark ages for even suggesting that oral sex was not a substancial risk .
Currently awaiting a 6 month 3 day post dry oral 20 second (or only pre-cum ?) encounter Elisa that's given me painful, swollen,clavical only node symptoms.
Maybe tests do trump symptoms , that makes much more sense medically ,but doesn't feel so when you feel symptoms. SORRY ABOUT THE RANT....
P.S.One of two PCR RNAS, 4 rapid bloods, 4 Elisas between week 12 through 25 all because of my one time straight guy "experiment" . We as a human race have done a great job of making what should be a great interaction of pleasure into a sad state of hightened awareness at the very least to a horror experience at the worst , this applies to hetero ,gay , etc sex . Our parents and earlier generations had no such worry other than treatable stds.
Comment by: Ron S
Mon., Oct. 18, 2010 at 10:57 pm UTC
My partner is afraid of becoming infected because I am HIV+ and is afraid my saliva will infect him during oral sex, should I take his fears serious or just those of another completely uninformed man. We haven't had sex ever since I told him I am positive and I love him and his body so.
Comment by: Mridha
Mon., Oct. 11, 2010 at 3:11 pm UTC
I hope oral sex is nice for every male and female who like to enjoy extra sex. This should be performed safely of course.
I have learned a lot from this page and really this article is helpful for couples who like to share oral simulation between.
Best of sex fantasy !!!
Comment by: dave
Sun., Oct. 10, 2010 at 7:50 am UTC
how about insertive oral sex. Does insertive oral sex ever cause infection. Has anyone heard from anyone that they caught it this way
Comment by: Bobby
Tue., Oct. 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm UTC
Please, name a study which effectively mimics "real world" hookup activity. In the meantime, all we have are individual behavioral recollections, with many people strongly asserting that they got it from oral when they have no motivation to lie. Painting the issue as a one-sided, "you're almost as likely to be hit by lightning" comparison does those trying to protect themselves a grave disservice.
Comment by: James
Wed., Sep. 29, 2010 at 10:52 pm UTC
This is interesting speculation here. Real experts in the field of STD/HIV will repeatedly state that there is little to no risk involved with oral sex. The 1 in 10,000 number is still good. Look on medhelp.com and the info passed on by those experts. CDC has a legal obligation to say there is some risk, however, prior to speculating on here wait until there is solid empirical data showing transmission through oral.
Comment by: Korangu
Sat., Sep. 25, 2010 at 11:15 am UTC
HIV transmission via oral sex is more common than previously thought. In perfect conditions (perfect oral health of the performer, no precum or cum involved) the risk is low, but in real life, it's much higher: many times, there is precum (which can be infective) even in the beginning of oral sex (if a person is very excited), and speaking of oral health: many times people brush they teeth before going on a date (a normal one with a possible sexual aftermath or a sex date), it's part of the ''getting ready for a date'' process...Even small cuts invisible to the eye can be dangerous. So, I think protected anal sex is safer than unprotected oral sex.
Comment by: Joe Dokes
Mon., Sep. 20, 2010 at 2:32 pm UTC
The actual number of cases reported to CDC of oral tranmission are very low - but some new evidence suggests that it is certainly possible to spread HIV with oral sex.
Comment by: Bobby
Mon., Sep. 20, 2010 at 12:46 am UTC
Interestingly, plenty of sources have never been shy about telling us that oral sex is "unsafe". The CDC for instance has attributed a rather large chunk of HIV infections to it. Likewise, the message from the "gay media" has not uniformly embraced "oral sex" as safe: there are plenty of stories of transmission via this route, including well publicized firsthand accounts of notable public figures like Andrew Sullivan. Yet many of us, myself included, chose to conclude the contrary, even after we'd read all the facts. We decided that its perfectly reasonable to blow strangers as the risk of contracting a fatal illness from oral is ridiculously low. There was no overarching message telling us this was absolute truth. Even the phrase "safer", which long ago replaced "safe", all but carries an asterisk reminding us that the practice is not completely safe.
To be certain, there is abundant information available which supports this claim, so anyone who wants to believe that oral is safe can make a case for it to themselves. Offhand, I recall phrases like "very very very low and possibly none", and statistical comparisons to being hit by lightening. Further those who claim oral is a risk are clearly in the minority, with those asserting infection from oral being accused of claiming "immaculate infection", as though admitting you got it from sucking is the same as blaming a toilet seat. Further, the entire issue is riddled with false notions of control, with reminders that oral without ejaculation poses a "very very very" low risk, as though another man's orgasm can be easily controlled.
What the reasonable person is faced with is *not* the claim that "oral sex is safe sex", but rather fine print telling us very much that we don't know and it may not be. Why so many of us choose to believe that it *is* safe sex and why those who claim otherwise are all but attacked...deserves as much attention as any individual route of transmission.
Comment by: Muralidharan V
Sat., Sep. 18, 2010 at 7:45 pm UTC
Superb and informative. Thanks for sharing.
Comment by: Bobby
Sat., Sep. 18, 2010 at 11:01 am UTC
Nice response and an interesting graph, but I think that it undercounts the risk for the partner who gives the blowjob. It fails to differentiate between oral sex with and without ejaculation, which is a pretty critical factor. Without getting into the specific methodology of the studies involved, I'd guess that they're calling "oral sex" everything from taking a load in the mouth and swallowing it to briefly licking the shaft of the penis. This is a critical issue, but its left on the table as though it doesn't even exist.
Comment by: Richard
Sat., Sep. 18, 2010 at 10:22 am UTC
Quite probably Peter, you'll have to get tested IMMEDIATELY, then wait again for six months and get tested again, as that is how long it takes antibodies to appear. You'll have to abstain from all sexual contact in the meantime as well.
Comment by: George
Fri., Sep. 17, 2010 at 12:46 pm UTC
I got HIV through oral sex, too. Never had unprotected anal (never much at all of it). Always been a top. No reason to make this up. One day someone will collect the stories from all of us and re-write the "oral sex is safer sex" BS.
Comment by: Brian
Fri., Sep. 17, 2010 at 9:51 am UTC
@ Peter: #4 is really the only activity that might cause infection, but that risk is very, very small. In order for you to become infected, his semen and/or precum would have to somehow get into your bloodstream. If there weren't any fluids on the shaft of his penis when you kissed it, then your risk was practically nonexistent and you shouldn't worry about it. However, just to be sure, you might want to schedule an HIV test in 1-3 months. All of the other activities you did were safe...assuming that you both had unbroken, healthy skin.
Also: one of the figures in my post yesterday was erroneous. The CDC assumes a 5% failure rate for condoms, not 20%...that is, they are 95% effective on average.
Comment by: peter
Fri., Sep. 17, 2010 at 12:09 am UTC
hello friends please help me...
I have never had sex in my life. recently i visited a 34 yr old man and although i wanted to have sex that day, i resisted and left the place. but before i left i had already done the following things with him:
1) kissed him on his cheeks and he kissed me on my cheeks too.
2) removed my t-shirt and rub my chest on his naked chest.
3) took his penis in my right hand and rubbed it for 4 to 5 minutes.
4) gave his penis a small (very small) kiss on its haft. (not on the penis head).
can i get HIV infected by doing this? i am scared to death by thinking about it and i hve got sick by taking a lot tension.
Please help me or advice me over this matter.
Apart from this , his house was not very clean. he was a single man who was not married.
Please help me sir. I am very scared. I have gone through many websites and they suggest that even kissing on a penis can make u infected by the HIV virus.
Comment by: Kat
Thu., Sep. 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm UTC
For those of you who dislike the taste of latex, which will also emerge as soon as the flavored lube is worn off the condom, you may consider using polyurethane condoms. They are a little more expensive, but have no taste.
Comment by: Brian
Thu., Sep. 16, 2010 at 3:39 pm UTC
@ bernard/Bobby: Even if you used a condom for anal sex, it is still more than twice as likely that you got infected due to a failed condom than it is from oral sex. (The following graph from the CDC assumes an average condom failure rate of 20%, and that the baseline risk of receiving oral while wearing a condom is 1 in 400,000 exposures):
That's not to say you DIDN'T get infected from oral sex -- just that the condom breaking during anal was the more likely scenario.
That being said...we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes an acceptable level of risk if we choose to be sexually active. And keep in mind that the chart represents AVERAGE risks...these numbers can be influenced by any number of factors, i.e. the viral load of the HIV+ partner, are there any other STDs or abrasions in the mouth, did you take cum in the mouth or not, etc. etc.
Comment by: laurel
(Nevada County, CA)
Thu., Sep. 16, 2010 at 1:35 am UTC
I believe oral sex is a risk, but it seems a reasonable one to me. Even with a seven year old child I feel obligated to try and stay negative for -- Life is a Risk. Don't we all balance that all the time, not just for HIV. Yes, i gave up my motorcycle because I'm just not that safe on it. I still tend to drink coffee and sometimes text while driving. I'm way likelier to die by car crash.
My choice- no condoms, no swallowing and careful of sores/scrapes for giver and receiver. Loving my partner is worth it.
Comment by: Jeff
Tue., Sep. 14, 2010 at 11:42 pm UTC
From 1 to 8%. 8%!!?? you are giving mixed messages on this site. Is this Roberts opinion? He has not stated the 1 in 10,000 statistic since 2008. This is troubling. If he has rethought this, he should say so. Otherwise, he is way overdue for repeating it. He has almost no questions in regards to oral sex with semen in the mouth and the risk thereof. Instead a bunch of questions from straight guys wanting to know if you get HIV from a lap dance. If he no longer stands by the 10,000 figure he should have the integrity to take it back.
Comment by: Bobby
Tue., Sep. 14, 2010 at 9:29 pm UTC
To be certain, you are speculating that the potential for condoms slipping, breaking or leaking at the tip poses a greater risk of HIV transmission than unprotected oral sex. Part of the problem with risk negotiotaiton is that no one really knows this.
Comment by: Jkm
Sun., Sep. 12, 2010 at 8:42 pm UTC
Anal sex with a condom is much riskier than receptive oral sex. Even if the condom does not break, it can slip or semen can leak out over the top.
Comment by: Mike
Sat., Sep. 11, 2010 at 10:31 pm UTC
I havent topped or bottomed in years and just have had and given oral sex, made out with guys and nipple play and guess what? January 2010 found out I was positive. Healthy guy here with good teeth and hygiene and still got it. It can happen from oral. I found out the hard way.
Comment by: Bobby
Sat., Sep. 11, 2010 at 1:04 am UTC
Condoms for anal sex weren't real typical in the beginning either.
Comment by: bernard
Fri., Sep. 10, 2010 at 7:06 am UTC
I mostly agree with Bobby. Maybe transmission via oral sex is not common, but it seems possible, even if seldom. I got HIV without ever having anal sex without a condom, so oral sex is the most likely way. And I didn't even get cum into my mouth. Want to add that I didn't get infected in the 21 previous years, with the same kind of safety level. Maybe just really bad luck now, who knows. But I have no reason to lie about this as I don't think it would be a shame if I had done unsafe sex just the once. But that didn't happen.
Comment by: Douglas
Thu., Sep. 9, 2010 at 11:20 pm UTC
The suggestion of oral sex with a condom isn't very realistic. It doesn't happen in real life.
Comment by: Bobby
Thu., Sep. 9, 2010 at 11:12 pm UTC
Hey Steve, maybe you've just gotten lucky? Maybe you're immune? Just because YOU didn't catch HIV from oral doesn't mean it isn't a common route of transmission. I know a few neg guys who take raw loads from guys they know to be poz, that doesn't mean unprotected receptive anal sex is "safer". As someone who tested poz and still can't identify a single instance of unprotected anal, oral sex stands as a very likely culprit in my seroconversion. I used to take heart in the party line that it is "very, very very unlikely, especially if there's no ejaculation". I now cringe when I hear it.
Comment by: Hilly
Thu., Sep. 9, 2010 at 4:45 pm UTC
Thanks for this enlightening article, it is quite difficult to get extensive info on how risky oral sex is, let alone tips on how to make it safer.
However, I do agree with Steve that it is not pleasurable to use condoms / dental dams for oral sex. I myself find the taste of latex horrible, even if it is a flavored condom.
On the other hand I do believe there is a risk, especially as little cuts in the mouth are often not recognizable, or in the case of bleeding gums.
So I will definitely be more careful in future, after all, what's more important : a bad latex taste or good health? I opt for good health !
Replies to this comment:
Comment by: PussyLover
Sat., Mar. 19, 2011 at 10:58 pm UTC
I agreed with Hilly, safety is my top priority!
I like to lick pussy very much but too scare to lick someone without knowing her health status...
Comment by: Steve A.
Tue., Sep. 7, 2010 at 10:06 pm UTC
Oral sex with a condom on is a total, complete TURN-OFF, not to mention the nasty latex smell. I simply do not believe the guys who swear that oral sex is all they were doing; many guys, particularly the ones who would like everyone to think that they are "straight" are very apt to lie about exactly what they were doing, since most of these men only consider the passive anal position as inherently "homosexual" in nature. Sorry, but I'll continue to do oral sex without a condom up to and including ejaculation into my mouth. I simply do not believe that HIV is easily passed this way, if at all. Agencies like the CDC are just afraid of getting sued if they say that it is even relatively safe, so they continue to say it's at least partly risky. All I've ever done is perform oral sex, usually to ejaculation in my mouth, and at 48 years old, guess what? I'm still NEGATIVE. HHHMMMMM.
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