Every week our expert Dr. Rachel Needle answers your questions.
Dear Dr. Rachel,
I just started dating a guy who has had sex with a lot of women. I haven't had sex with him yet, but I gave him oral sex the other night. I have been freaking out since then and wondering, can I get HIV from giving oral sex?
Dear Freaked out,
While oral sex does present a lower risk for HIV transmission than either unprotected vaginal or anal sex, yes, it is possible for you to contract HIV from giving oral sex. If the man you are dating is in fact HIV positive, his blood, semen (cum), or pre-cum can contain the virus. If your partner did not ejaculate inside your mouth, your chances of contracting HIV decrease. If he did ejaculate in your mouth, the chance of contracting HIV rises but is still relatively low unless you have cuts or sores around or in your mouth or throat or if your partner has another sexually transmitted infection (STI).
One survey of gay men conducted in 2000 from the Centers for Disease Control, found that approximately eight percent of recently infected men were probably infected through oral sex. However, this may be an overestimate because many of the men reported oral problems such as bleeding gums, cuts or sores in their mouths. In addition, the majority of the men reported getting semen in their mouths. Both of these factors can increase the likelihood of HIV transmission. Despite the potential problems in the study, this study emphasized that oral sex with someone infected with HIV is not risk-free.
Remember, other STIs can also be transmitted through oral sex. In the future, when performing oral sex on your partner, be sure to use a latex condom, unless of course your partner is allergic to latex, in which case other makes such as plastic (polyurethane) condoms can be used. When used correctly and consistently, condoms can be very effective, although not perfect, in preventing HIV transmission.
For more information I encourage you to contact CDC National HIV/AIDS Hotline at 800-342-AIDS (2437).
Please remember that Information provided on this website is for educational purposes only. It is designed to support, not replace, personal medical care and should never be used as a substitute for personal medical attention, diagnosis, or hands-on treatment.
Previous Q & A
9/1/2010 HIV from Oral Sex?
12/12/2008 Bumps on scrotum
11/26/2008 genital warts
6/1/2008 Genital Herpes Blood Test
4/24/2008 AIDS from kissing?