Can you get HIV from kissing?

Can you get HIV from Kissing

By: Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center

Can you get HIV from kissing? The answer is: NOPE.

“Wait, seriously?” you might ask. “I can kiss anyone I want?”

Well, consent is still a thing, but beyond that… yeah, pretty much! The whole ‘catching HIV through kissing’ thing is a huge, steaming pile of you-know-what (with a few minor exceptions)!

We’ll break it all down with sexy science to back us up. Plus, there are loads of health benefits to kissing that we’ll get into. 💕

So, can you get HIV from kissing? Read on to get the whole story. ⬇️


I thought HIV was spread through bodily fluids?

Getting HIV by kissing is a common untruth, as HIV is not spread through saliva. In fact, saliva naturally has a combination of antibodies and enzymes that prevent HIV from infecting new cells. Awesome, right?

The basic idea is that some of the same things in saliva, helping you digest food and keep your mouth lubricated, also prevent HIV from infecting your immune system. The enzyme that does this is called a Secretory Leukocyte Protease Inhibitor (SLPI).


Does this mean that kissing is 100% safe, 100% of the time?

Not entirely.

SLPI is found in much higher concentrations in saliva than in vaginal and rectal fluids. Still, things get tricky if you have a cut in your mouth, or an open sore. HIV is spread through blood, so open-mouth kissing someone with bleeding gums, for instance, could transmit HIV. But, when it comes to HIV, closed-mouth kissing is safe!

Just avoid smooching someone with bad oral hygiene, and you’re good to go! 😬


If not HIV, then what can I catch from kissing?

Wow, you’re determined! Poor dental hygiene isn’t just gross; it’s also bad for you. 👎 It can cause plaque buildup over time and expose you to harmful bacteria. Plaque leads to gum disease and bad breath. Once these set in, you'll need to take extra good care of your teeth in the future.

If you want to know more about oral health, we’ve gone in-depth on this topic before, right here.

But didn’t you just say that kissing was good for me?

Well, kissing IS pretty sweet. 😘 It has all sorts of benefits! We’re just saying that kissing PLUS nasty oral hygiene is a no-go. Experts have some reasons why it's so great:

  • It can strengthen the immune system: When you kiss, you share oral microbiota-- a community of tiny microorganisms holding a dance party in your mouth! This potentially leads to stronger immune systems.
  • It results in less stress and anxiety: If you kiss for just 15 minutes, your cortisol levels drop, reducing stress and anxiety.
  • It can increase one’s lifespan: Those that kiss their partners every morning miss less work due to illness, get in fewer car accidents, and live longer than those that don’t (we don’t make the rules, this study does).
  • You can say goodbye to plaque and cavities: If you enjoy French kissing, keep at it! You’re also helping to fight cavities and reduce plaque.
  • It can even lower your blood pressure: A faster heart rate can help reduce blood pressure, and few things get the heart going faster than kissing someone you like.


Why do we even kiss in the first place?

This might take the romance out of everything… but kissing feels good because it releases chemicals and endorphins (the happy hormones in the brain). In fact, almost everything works that way in our body, from serotonin (tiny messengers between the nerve cells in the brain) making us happy to ghrelin (a hormone in the stomach) telling us we’re hungry. The science of it, known as positive and negative feedback, is pretty awe-inspiring. 🔬

In the case of kissing, one of these chemicals is oxytocin, which gives us feelings of affection and bonding. 💏 Dopamine (feeling good) is part of the cocktail, too. When you throw in the adrenaline thrill of making out with the crush you never thought would be into you, you’ve got a recipe for euphoria.

So, in conclusion: can you get HIV from kissing? Nope. Nada. Not gonna happen.


Now for the fun…

Say no more - we’ve thought of a few games to get the blood flowing and the lips smooching. 💋 Why not try:

  • Adult Spin the Bottle: In this spiced-up version of what we used to play as kids, you lay down on the floor across from each other. Then form a kind of oval with both your hands and feet touching. Spin a bottle between you, and wherever it points, you kiss! This can be playful or full-on sexy, and if you’re extra brave, try playing without any clothes on.
  • Blindfold Play: Put a blindfold on your partner, then kiss them in unexpected places. This leads to some fun experimentation, and your partner can get revenge by putting the blindfold on you afterward, too!
  • Sensual Kiss and Tell: Take turns kissing each other in new places, and then tell one another how the kiss felt. Again, you’re experimenting and discovering more about each other AND yourself. Maybe the places you never thought of kissing might end up feeling incredible! You never know.

If you’re interested, there are loads more resources out there for keeping things spicy in the bedroom, like this blog we wrote. Have fun!


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