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Ask Dr. K
RISKS FROM PERFORMING ORAL SEX ON AN HIV POSITIVE PARTNER

QUESTION
I regularly give oral sex to a man who confessed to regularly receiving oral sex from a HIV+ man on meds. I understand that this is low risk sex but do I need to tell my other partners about this?

ANSWER
Though there have been a few cases reported of HIV transmission through performing oral sex on an HIV-infected man, it is extremely rare. HIV is in the semen and can even be measured in the semen of HIV-infected persons on long term therapy. Saliva, however, has special factors that reduce the survival of the virus. The throat does not seem to have membranes that allow HIV infection and the stomach has a high level of protective acid. See a similar question: http://sfcityclinic.org/drk/hivaids8.asp.

However, it is always a good idea to talk to partners about your sexual practices and history. Though oral sex is considered "safer sex" and lower risk, everyone should have the knowledge to decide for themselves at what risk-level they are comfortable. Continuing to get tested for STDs including HIV infection in those at risk every three months is the best way to be fully informed when talking to partners—it will ease your mind and theirs. For more information on STD testing, visit http://SFCityClinic.org or http://STDTest.org for places in San Francisco or call the CDC National Hotline for services near you: 1-800-CDC-INFO.

To your health,
Dr. K


   
 
Last modified on Thursday, November 19, 2009.
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