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FAQ: Can you get HIV through oral sex?
Many people find oral sex an intensely pleasurable experience. People use different terms to refer to oral sex including formal terms like fellatio and cunnilingus and slang terms like blow jobs and giving head. Usually oral sex means one person kissing, licking or sucking another person's genitals. Doctors and researchers can't be sure how many people have acquired HIV through oral sex. In late , researchers looked at all the available evidence and calculated that the risk of acquiring HIV from oral sex was very low, but that it wasn't zero. It is clear that oral sex involves much less risk than anal or vaginal sex. HIV is most easily passed on during anal sex, vaginal sex, sharing injecting equipment, and from mother to baby. It is much less likely that HIV will be passed on during oral sex, but it is possible in some circumstances. It depends on the viral load of the person living with HIV and the dental health of the person performing oral sex.
Back to Sexual health. HIV is transmitted through seminal and vaginal fluids, including menstrual fluids. The virus can enter the body through the bloodstream or by passing through delicate mucous membranes, such as inside the vagina, rectum or urethra. If a person gives fellatio and has bleeding gums, a cut, or an ulcer inside their mouth, HIV could enter their bloodstream through infected fluid. This could also happen if infected fluid from a woman gets into the mouth of her partner during oral sex. Using a condom during sex, including oral and anal sex, is the best way to prevent sexually transmitted infections STIs , including HIV. Avoid using an oil-based lubricant, such as Vaseline or baby oil, because they can weaken the condom and increase the risk of it splitting.
This article is also available in Simplified Chinese and Thai. 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? Oral sex is generally considered to be very low risk for HIV transmission. Risk can increase if there are sores, abrasions or cuts in the mouth or following a dental procedure like tooth extraction. The best advice is to avoid getting cum in the mouth in these circumstances. HIV needs an entry point such as a cut to be transmitted, so you may want to avoid getting these fluids in your mouth if you have bad gingivitis, an STI in the throat or other sores in the mouth.