Oral sex is sex involving kissing, licking, or sucking on another person’s genitals. For many, it is an extremely erotic and enjoyable experience. Oral sex is referred to as fellatio, cunnilingus and anilingus, or as blow job (BJ), or giving head in slang terms. But can you get AIDS from oral sex? Read on to find out the risks involved and what you can do to minimize them.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV infection is normally transmitted through:
Pre-cum (lubricant produced by the penis before ejaculation)
Mucus found in the rectum
What are some misconceptions about its transmission?
HIV is not transferred by the following activities:
Being sneezed on by a person with HIV
Sharing a bath with someone who has HIV
Sharing towels or cutlery
Insects or animal bite (e.g. mosquitoes)
Also, natural bodily fluids, such as sweat, urine and saliva do not contain sufficient amounts of the virus to elicit an infection in another person. Does having oral sex involve any risks?
However arousing as it may be for some, oral sex carries with it the serious risk of transmitting STI’s. Disease organisms can be easily transferred from an infected to uninfected partner during oral sex, leading to syphilis, herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, and even hepatitis A or B.
Can you get AIDS from oral sex?
HIV transmission is possible through giving and receiving oral sex. The risks, no matter how insignificant, cannot be totally dismissed. The exact risk cannot be established because people tend to engage in other more risky sexual practices while having oral sex as well, such as vaginal or anal sex.
How is HIV transmitted through oral sex?
If a person infected with HIV gives oral sex, the virus may be transmitted from minute cuts or lesions in the mouth to the infected partners body via the urethra, (small opening at the tip of penis from which sperms are ejaculated), vagina, or anus. If the person receiving oral sex has HIV, then their semen, blood, pre-cum and vaginal fluids are bound to contain viral particles. Any of these can easily enter the mouth of their sexual partner, and infect any sores or cuts present.
However, it is worth noting that exposure to saliva alone does not transmit HIV infection. Hence, the chances of a HIV positive person transmitting the virus to a HIV negative person during oral sex through saliva only are very low.
What factors increase chances of transmission?
If any of the sexual partners already has an STD, the chance of HIV infection is increased. Bleeding gums, oral ulcers and genital lesions can also enhance the risk of HIV transmission.
If there is a high viral load in the blood, then the semen will also contain a high viral load. An untreated STI can also increase the viral load in the semen. Thus, having an undetectable viral load does not necessarily mean that you are non-infectious.
In the case of women, the viral load in vaginal fluids varies. It is most likely to be highest during or around the time of menstruation, and having oral sex will thus be more risky around this time.
What preventive measures can be taken?
Do not swallow the semen or pre-cum. Spit it out the moment it makes contact with your mouth.
Avoid having oral sex at least 45 minutes after brushing your teeth, flossing, and absolutely not if you have any gum or mouth sores.
Men should wear a latex or polyurethane condom as a protective barrier between the penis and the mouth. Women should use a dental dam to cover the vagina.
Limit your intimate relations to just a few partners.
Avoid oral sex during menstruation.
Have regular sessions of health screening for both you and your partner.