syphilis risk from kissing?

Question

First, Dr. Frascino, let me say that I cried when I read about you having HIV and how you got it. I cried not because I'm sad, but because of how much I admire the way you seem to be living your life to the fullest and helping others, not just with HIV but other related topics. I have only learned about thebody.com in recent days as I searched the internet for an answer to my own question (below). I admit I'm a worry wart, have always been--which is why I originally wanted an answer to my question by searching the archives on thebody.com--but I've instead gained something far more valuable from you and thebody.com: live life to the fullest without worry, love the people who love you and don't waste time with worry. Appreciate life now, you could get HIV, you could get hit by a truck... no one knows for sure when their number is up, so just live your life.

If you choose to post my question, please feel free to abbreviate the above--I just wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude. When I am able, I will make a donation in some way.

My question is: The CDC, etc., even thebody.com says in some places that syphilis can be transmitted through kissing in addition to the usual means of genital, oral and anal sex (or tranmission from mother to baby). However, kissing (french kissing) is also listed as low risk sexual behavior for tranmission of an STD. I know the risk is low, but can you please put a number on what the risks are for getting syphilis from french kissing someone(when no oral,genital, anal contact occurs)? Ex. 1 in 5000, 1 in 10,000, etc. if such a number exists.

It would also be helpful if there were a similar number/% for the transmission of other STD's in from french kissing, to help put the paranoid at ease.

Thank you so much

Answer

Hello,

Sorry there are no estimated risk statistics for the risk of acquiring syphilis from French kissing. Likewise for other STDs.

Can it happen? Sure. If someone has an active cold sore, he or she could transmit herpes to his or partner with a kiss. Or if someone had an active syphilitic chancre, likewise transmission could occur with a kiss. However, I really doubt you would be kissing someone visible lesions, right? Consequently, I believe you are indeed being overly paranoid. You don't need statistical percentages to keep you safe. Rather, just some common sense should do the trick to keep you safe whenever you "do the trick" (so to speak).

I'll repost below a question about French kissing from the archives.

Stay well.

Dr. Bob

french kissing risk Jun 24, 2005

In trying to assess the risk of acquiring any STD, I've never seen a question put to you in this way, "Knowing what you do, would you engage in french kissing with a stranger?"

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

I'll need a bit more information than that! Is the stranger hot?

Dr. Bob