New Health Guide

Can You Get AIDs from Oral Sex?

Oct 19, 2014

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks your immune system leaving you unable to fight infections. In advanced stages of HIV infection, the syndrome is known as Acquired ImmunodDeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). There are an estimated 34 million people living with HIV infection. It is known that the mode of transmission of the virus is through exchange of body fluids from an infected person to a non-infected person. A frequently asked question is can you get AIDS from oral sex? If yes, how should you deal with it? What are the other ways you could get AIDS?

Can You Get AIDs from Oral Sex?

1. The Short Answer Is Yes

Any exchange of body fluids with an infected person carries with it some risk of becoming infected by the virus that causes AIDS – and that includes taking bodily fluids into your mouth. If you take semen or sexual fluids into your mouth, the chance of infection is small. If you have open sores or bleeding gums in your mouth, the risk of infection goes up because the protection of intact skin is gone.

2. How to Deal with It

The only way to prevent HIV infection from oral sex is to refrain from the practice. Another protective device is to be sure you keep your mouth healthy and do not perform oral sex if you have open sores in your mouth. When bodily fluids get into your mouth, either swallow the fluid or spit it out and rinse your mouth. The HIV will not live once it comes into contact with the acid in your stomach so the risk of infection goes down if you swallow. If you choose not to swallow the body fluids, be sure to spit it out promptly and rinse your mouth well. Do not forget that there are other sexually transmitted diseases that can also be transmitted through oral sex.

What Are the Risks of Getting AIDs from other Forms of Sex?

While the risk of getting HIV is low for oral sex, there are various degrees of risk for other sex acts. The chart below gives relative risks for HIV transmission for other common forms of sex.

High Risk for HIV Transmission

  • Receiving anal sex without using a condom
  • Being “Fisted” without gloves

Medium Risk for HIV Transmission

  • Performing anal sex without a condom
  • Receiving anal sex without a condom in which the person performing the anal sex withdraws before ejaculation
  • “Fisting” an HIV positive person without a glove

Low Risk for HIV Transmission

  • Oral sex with an HIV positive person
  • Performing or receiving anal sex with a condom
  • Rimming
  • “Fisting” with gloves

No Risk for HIV Transmission

  • Role playing and “dirty talk”
  • Massage
  • Kissing
  • Spanking, wrestling and bondage
  • Mutual masturbation
  • Frottage or “dry sex”

What Are Other Ways People Get AIDs?

1. Injecting Drugs

Intravenous drug users who share syringes and needles are at very high risk for exposure to HIV due to blood to blood contact when equipment is shared with an infected individual. Sharing needles with an HIV infected person during IV drug use is probably the easiest way to contract HIV.

2. Tattoos / Piercing

In a tattoo or piercing parlor that uses sterile equipment, the risk of transmission of HIV is low. However, if equipment is not sterilized between uses, the risk of infection is very high since there is a good chance of blood to blood contact. Be sure to ask the tattoo artist how instruments are sterilized between procedures.

3. Blood Transfusions

In the early to mid 1980’s before the mechanism for transmission of HIV was known, there were instances of infection through blood transfusions from infected blood. Now that the mechanism is understood, all blood is tested for HIV in developed countries. In countries where this testing is not available, there is still a risk for infection from blood transfusions.

4. Infection

Healthcare environments such as hospitals and clinics use many precautions to prevent infection with HIV. Hand hygiene and wearing gloves are some of the more obvious steps to prevent healthcare acquired infections. There have been rare instances of healthcare workers who are infected by needle sticks and contact with infected body fluids.

5. Vaginal Sex

Semen and vaginal fluids can both contain HIV. During vaginal intercourse without a condom, the virus can be transmitted from either partner to the other. Again, the risk is increased if either partner has cuts or sores on their genitalia. A woman on her menstrual period is likely to have blood in her vaginal vault which, if infected with HIV, can be transmitted to her partner.

6. Anal Sex

As already outlined in the table above, anal sex is a relatively risky practice. If a condom is used correctly, the risk can be relatively low. However, if a condom is used incorrectly, if it breaks, or if a condom is not used at all, the risk for transmission of HIV and development of AIDS increases very quickly.