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HIV and AIDS

Transmission Of AIDS From Oral Sex

06/30/2005

Question:

I am a married woman with a husband who has recetly been diagnosed with HIV. I was tested and am negative. We have recently started to become sexually intimate and are using condoms for sexual intercourse. I wanted to know the dangers of oral sex. I have not performed oral sex on him, but he has on me. If this is a risk, why? Is it the passing of fluids? Why is kissing not a danger? Also, how "safe" is protected sex? Am I trully safe?

Answer:

There are well documented cases of HIV transmission through oral sex. The current recommendations call for the use of dental dams or other barrier methods, to prevent the passage of bodily fluids into the partner's mucosal membranes. HIV can be isolated for oral secretions in low levels, but it is not unusual to have small amounts of blood and ulcerations from periodontal disease or the simple act of flossing and teeth brushing. No cases of transmission of HIV through kissing have been documented, and it is considered a safe practice, but no contact between bodily fluids and mucosa is 100% safe. How safe is protected sex? It is safer than unprotected sex. The use of barrier methods decreases the chances of HIV transmission but not to zero. For example occasional rupture of the condoms may allow the transmission of HIV and other STDS.

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Response by:

Francisco   Gomez, MD Francisco Gomez, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati