What Is Oral Sex
Oral sex involves using your mouth or tongue to stimulate your partners genitals or anus.
Many people enjoy oral sex as part of their sex life but it is a very personal thing and not everybody likes it or chooses to do it. Different people like to give or receive oral sex in different ways. There are a whole variety of ways to lick, suck and stimulate someone. You may decide not to have oral sex at all, or you may enjoy experimenting with your partner to find out what gives you both pleasure.
It is important to talk to your partner so you can understand what you both enjoy and what you would prefer to avoid.
How To Reduce The Risk
Although the risk of HIV passing to another person through oral sex is low, people can take steps to reduce it further.
For example, people with HIV can avoid ejaculating in the mouth of their sexual partner. They can do this by using a condom or withdrawing the penis before ejaculation.
A dental dam is another option. This is a small latex or silicone sheet that a person places over the vagina, anus, or mouth during sex.
Flossing or brushing the teeth can cause the gums to bleed, so it might also help to avoid this right before sexual activity.
People without HIV can take additional steps to avoid transmission, including:
- taking pre-exposure prophylaxis medication beforehand
- using condoms or dental dams correctly during all sexual activities
- avoiding lubricants with an oil base, such as Vaseline or baby oil
- taking post-exposure prophylaxis within a couple of days after the sexual contact
- getting regular sexual health checkups
People with HIV should take antiretroviral medication exactly as their doctor recommends.
In the early stages of HIV, people might experience:
- a fever
- rashes that are not itchy
- aching muscles
- swollen glands, or lymph nodes
- oral sores
How Is Hiv Spread From Person To Person
HIV can only be spread through specific activities. In the United States, the most common ways are:
- Having vaginal or anal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV. Anal sex is riskier than vaginal sex.
- Sharing injection drug equipment , such as needles, with someone who has HIV.
Less common ways are:
- From mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. However, the use of HIV medicines and other strategies have helped lower the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV to 1% or less in the United States.
- Getting stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object. This is a risk mainly for health care workers. The risk is very low.
HIV is spread only in extremely rare cases by:
- Having oral sex. But in general, the chance that an HIV-negative person will get HIV from oral sex with an HIV-positive partner is extremely low.
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How Safe Is Oral Sex
Although it is possible to become infected with HIV through oral sex, the risk of becoming infected in this way is much lower than the risk of infection via unprotected sexual intercourse with a man or woman.When giving oral sex to a man a person could become infected with HIV if infected semen came into contact with damaged and receding gums, or any cuts or sores they might have in their mouth.
Giving oral sex to a woman is also considered relatively low risk. Transmission could take place if infected sexual fluids from a woman got into the mouth of her partner. The likelihood of infection might be increased if there is menstrual blood involved or if the woman is infected with another sexually transmitted disease.
The likelihood of either a man or a woman becoming infected with HIV as a result of receiving oral sex is extremely low, as saliva does not contain infectious quantities of HIV.
Tips For Safer Oral Sex
If a partner who is living with HIV has an undetectable viral load, their risk of transmitting HIV during oral sex is zero, whether they use the tips below or they do not.
If a partner living with HIV is not taking HIV drugs and/or has a detectable viral load, the chance of HIV transmission during oral sex is still low. The tips below can lower that chance even further. If you are not sure of your or your partners HIV status, and are not taking PrEP or if the partner living with HIV is not on treatment or is known to have a detectable viral load oral sex can be safer if you and/or your partner:
- get treatment for any other STIs you may have
- do not have gum disease
- wait to have oral sex until any mouth sores or genital cuts, scrapes, or sores have healed
- wait until after having oral sex to floss, brush your teeth, or do anything that could create cuts or cause bleeding in your mouth
- If you want to freshen up before oral sex, consider using a breath mint instead
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Theoretic Vs Documented Risk
Whenever discussing HIV risk, it is important to differentiate between a theoretic and documented risk. A documented risk is based on the actual number of cases to which HIV can be directly attributed to an act of oral sex. And, when looking through that lens, the risk of infection by oral sex is actually extremely low. Not zero, perhaps, but edging close to it.
In fact, according to a study from the University of California San Francisco’s Centers for AIDS Prevention Studies, the probability of HIV infection through unprotected oral sex was statistically zero, although the researchers went so far as to add that “we can not rule out the possibility that the probability of infection is indeed greater than zero.”
For an individual perspective, there are numerous factors and situations that can increase personal risk, sometimes considerably. By understanding and identifying these factors, you can make better, more informed choices about the sexual health of you and your partner.
Viral Load & Medications
If someone has HIV, this does not mean that they are restricted to celibacy. Many people with HIV still continue to have safe, enjoyable sex lives without spreading the virus. Always using a condom or barrier method is an important first step to prevent the sharing of HIV containing fluids.
Antiretroviral therapy : Another way to help decrease the risk of spreading HIV is to lower a personâs viral loadâthe amount of HIV in a personâs blood. Viral loads can be lowered using medications called antiretroviral therapy . These medications can lower the HIV viral load so much that HIV may not even be detectable on a blood testâthis is called an undetectable viral load . When a person’s viral load in undetectable, they have effectively no risk of transmitting the HIV virus to a non-infected partner . Taking these medication will help keep a person with HIV healthy while also helping prevent the spread of HIV to another person. This is not a cure, however. If medication is taken incorrectly or stopped, HIV viral loads will increase again and transmission can occur. Condoms and other barrier methods should still always be used during sex .
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Is Unprotected Anal Intercourse More Of An Hiv Risk Than Vaginal Or Oral Sex
Unprotected anal intercourse does carry a higher risk than most other forms of sexual activity. The lining of the rectum has fewer cells than that of the vagina, and therefore can be damaged more easily, causing bleeding during intercourse. This can then be a route into the bloodstream for infected sexual fluids or blood. There is also a risk to the insertive partner during anal intercourse, though this is lower than the risk to the receptive partner.
How To Minimize Risk
Clearly, the best way to minimize the risk of infection is to practice safer sex. This is especially true if you have multiple sex partners or are unsure about the health of a sex partner. These include condoms and dental dams for those engaging in cunnilingus or anilingus.
There are additional strategies that can further reduce risk:
- If you are HIV-positive, take your HIV medicine as prescribed. If your viral load remains undetectable, you have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to HIV-negative partners.
- If you are HIV-negative, you can ask your healthcare provider to prescribe HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis , a once-daily drug therapy that can reduce your risk of infection by more than 90%.
- Regular HIV screening is recommended for persons at high risk of infection, including MSM, injecting drug users, and persons with multiple sex partners. Periodic STD screenings are also recommended.
Finally, communication is tantamount to the long-term avoidance of HIV. Whether you are HIV-positive or HIV-negative, the most harm comes from leaving things unspoken. Learn more about ways to negotiate safer sex or how to disclose your HIV status to someone you’re dating.
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Hiv Is Mainly Spread In The United States By:
- Having anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV.
- For the HIV-negative partner, receptive anal sex is the highest-risk sexual behavior, but you can also get HIV from insertive anal sex .
- Either partner can get HIV through vaginal sex, though it is less risky for getting HIV than receptive anal sex.
‘can I Get Hiv From Oral Sex Is A Question Weve Been Asked Frequently Through Our Website So Today Weve Put Together Your All You Need To Know About Oral Sex Risk Guide
Oral sex is one of the more popular sexual acts encountered in the bedroom with the Australian Study of Health and Relationships revealing that 88% of men in Australia have experienced oral sex. So that perhaps explains the reason why we get asked this sensible question so often: does oral sex put me at risk of getting HIV?
Lets look a little closer
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Condoms And Dental Dams For Safer Oral Sex
Using a barrier can lower the chance of getting or passing an STI through oral sex.
Visit a local public health unit, sexual health clinic or HIV organization to get free condoms! Some of these places also have free dental dams.
Production of this document has been made possible through a financial contribution from the Public Health Agency of Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
This resource was adapted from a resource originally published by the Canadian Public Health Association. CATIE thanks YouthCO and the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia for reviewing this resource. We also thank the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada and Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi, University of Toronto, for medical review.
Writer: Mallory Harrigan
Can Someone Get Hiv Through Oral Sex
If a person who is infected with HIV gives a partner oral sex, can the partner become infected with HIV? Dan
Yes. Although rare, it is possible to transmit HIV through giving and receiving oral sex.
When someone with HIV gives oral sex, the virus can go from small cuts or sores in the mouth into the uninfected persons body through the urethra , vagina, or anus. When someone with HIV receives oral sex, the virus can enter the other persons body when semen or vaginal fluids get into the mouth.
If either partner also has another STD , it increases the chance of HIV infection even more.
Placing a protective barrier between the mouth and genitals can lower the chances of HIV infection both when giving and receiving oral sex. Guys should always wear a latex condom . Girls should put a dental dam or plastic food wrapping as a barrier over the genitals.
Date reviewed: January 2015
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
Note: All information on KidsHealth is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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Should I Have Oral Sex
Talking to your partner about protection before you start having oral sex will help make things easier. This may feel embarrassing but taking responsibility for protecting yourself and your partner is an important part of having sex. If you find it too awkward to talk about then you may not be ready to have oral sex just yet.
You should never give or receive oral sex just because you feel forced into it. Dont be pressured into any sex act by comments like it doesnt mean weve had real sex youll still be a virgin, or if you dont want sex at least go down on me, or its not as risky as having intercourse. If one of you isnt comfortable with the decision it can ruin the whole experience. Oral sex should be fun for both of you.
Our article Am I ready for sex? will help you work out what is right for you.
How You Become Infected
There is HIV virus in body fluids like vaginal secretions and semen. If those fluids are present, they can enter the bloodstream of someone who doesn’t have HIV through an opening such as a mouth sore or a genital ulcer.
Your chances are higher of getting HIV if you:
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What Is The Likelihood Of Contracting Hiv From Oral Sex
Oral sex is the stimulation of a partner’s penis , vagina , or anus using the mouth, lips, or tongue. “The likelihood of acquiring HIV from oral sex is far lower than vaginal or anal sex,” says Neilan. The risk is so low that scientists have not established a conclusive statistic, but a 1999 study estimates a 0.04% risk among male sexual partners.
Although the risk is low, unprotected oral sex still carries the risk of transmitting HIV, as well as sexually transmitted infections . “Protection against HIV does not mean protection against all sexually transmitted infections,” says Neilan.
A person without HIV may contract the virus by giving or receiving any type of oral sex to or from a partner with HIV. Some risk factors increase the likelihood of contracting HIV through oral sex, which include:
- Sores in the mouth, vagina, or penis
- Tooth decay or gum disease
- Recent dental work
The risk of HIV from oral sex may be minimal, but it’s still important to know how to avoid contracting and transmitting the virus.
Estimating Risk By Exposure Type
The likelihood of transmitting HIV through oral sex depends largely on the type of contact involved. Putting aside all other risk factors, the potential for infection can vary based on whether the non-infected person is either performing or receiving oral sex.
Broadly speaking, the risk of HIV from oral sex can run anywhere from 0% to 1%, according to research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
However, numbers can change once you factor in specific sexual behaviors. Among them:
- Receptive fellatio, meaning that the non-infected person is performing oral sex on a male partner with HIV, is considered exceptionally low risk. Among men who have sex with men , the per-act risk hovers at around 0.04 percent.
- Insertive fellatio is even less likely given that the enzymes in saliva can neutralize the HIV viral particles.
- Cunnilingus has also proven to be a highly unlikely route.
- Anilingus is also regarded as being of negligible risk, particularly for the receptive partner.
While these figures suggest that the risk of HIV is low from a population perspective, that shouldn’t imply that it is inherently low from an individual perspective. Clearly, the more risk factors you have, the greater the risk of transmission will be.
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Ways Hiv Cannot Be Spread
HIV is not spread by:
- Air or water
- Mosquitoes, ticks or other insects
- Saliva, tears, or sweat that is not mixed with the blood of a person with HIV
- Shaking hands hugging sharing toilets sharing dishes, silverware, or drinking glasses or engaging in closed-mouth or social kissing with a person with HIV
- Drinking fountains
Is Deep Kissing A Route Of Hiv Transmission
Deep or open-mouthed kissing is a very low risk activity in terms of HIV transmission. HIV is only present in saliva in very minute amounts, insufficient to cause infection with HIV. There has been only one documented case of someone becoming infected with HIV through kissing a result of exposure to infected blood during open-mouthed kissing. If you or your partner have blood in your mouth, you should avoid kissing until the bleeding stops.
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