One of the more common questions I am asked is “Can I get HIV from oral sex?”
As noted from the CDC website:
Oral sex involves giving or receiving oral stimulation (i.e., sucking or licking) to the penis (fellatio), the vagina (cunnilingus), or the anus (anilingus). HIV can be transmitted during any of these activities, but the risk is much less than that from anal or vaginal sex. Receiving fellatio, giving or receiving cunnilingus, and giving or receiving anilingus carry little to no risk. The highest oral sex risk is to individuals performing fellatio on an HIV-infected man, with ejaculation in the mouth.1,2
Risk of HIV From Oral
Even though oral sex carries a lower risk of HIV transmission than other sexual activities, the risk is not zero. It is difficult to measure the exact risk because people who practice oral sex may also practice other forms of sex during the same encounter. When transmission occurs, it may be the result of oral sex or other, riskier sexual activities, such as anal or vaginal sex.
If the person receiving oral sex has HIV, their blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, or vaginal fluid may contain the virus. If the person performing oral sex has HIV, blood from their mouth may enter the body of the person receiving oral sex through the lining of the urethra (the opening at the tip of the penis), vagina, cervix, or anus, or through cuts and sores.
Several factors may increase the risk of HIV transmission through oral sex, including oral ulcers, bleeding gums, genital sores, and the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Key points to know is that for HIV to be shared via oral sex there needs to be contact of bodily fluids from the person with HIV into the blood stream or mucous membrane of the other person.
Oral sex is a low risk of spreading HIV however there are some additional ways to reduce risk:
The following things can reduce the risk of getting HIV through oral sex:
- If giving oral sex, avoid having your partner ejaculate in your mouth.
- Use barriers, such as condoms, natural rubber latex sheets, dental dams, or cut-open nonlubricated condoms between your mouth and your partner’s genitals or rectum.
Receiving oral sex “getting head” has an extremely low risk of HIV spread provided there are no cuts or ulcers on the penis.
The key points are that if you are concerned about getting HIV from oral sex you should see a doctor to discuss your risks and to consider getting a rapid HIV test.