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Can you catch HIV through Oral Sex?

Oral Sex & HIV

Many STIs can be passed from one person to another via oral sex and the same can be said about HIV. However, in comparison to those other STIs the risk is much lower. Here’s everything that you need to know about HIV and oral sex from Your Sexual Health.

Can HIV be passed via oral sex?

Although the risk is extremely low, HIV can be passed from one person to another during oral sex depending on a number of factors.

First of all, if the person with HIV is receiving effective medication against the condition and they have an undetectable viral load, then it is not possible for them to pass on HIV through oral sex.

However, for people yet to be diagnosed with HIV or not receiving medication there is a greater risk of them transmitting the infection.

Public Health England estimates that between 1-3% of all HIV transmissions in the UK come as the result of oral sex, whilst other studies quote numbers even lower.

Factors increase the risk of HIV being passed through oral sex

The risks can become greater depending on a number of factors.

Performing oral sex on a man with HIV

If a HIV negative person performs oral sex on a man with HIV there is a risk of passing on the condition if the man has a detectable viral load.

The risk is increased if the man ejaculates in the HIV negative persons mouth or pre-cum is passed into the other person’s mouth.

By avoiding the person ejaculating into the other person’s mouth you greatly reduce the risk.

You should bare in mind that if a person carrying HIV has yet to be diagnosed, they will have a detectable viral load and carry a greater risk of passing on the virus.

Receiving oral sex from someone with HIV

The risk when the HIV positive person performs oral sex is greatly reduced.

Factors which may increase the risk slightly include the person performing oral having cuts in their mouth.

A throat or mouth infection may also increase the risk.

Performing oral sex on a woman with HIV

There is a very small risk that HIV can be passed from a woman with HIV.

Performing oral sex on a woman on her period does carry a greater risk.

Reducing the risk from oral sex

Although oral sex carries a smaller risk than both vaginal and anal sex there are still things that can be done to reduce the risk of catching HIV further.

  • Don’t perform oral sex on a person with a detectable viral load
  • Wear protection if either person has cuts in their mouth
  • Avoid ejaculating in the uninfected persons mouth

Even if the other person doesn’t have HIV, If you’re performing oral sex on someone or receiving it for the first time you should wear protection until you are both tested against STIs.