Can I really get (or transmit) HIV through oral sex? Public health professionals get this question all the time. The simple answer is: It’s possible, but extremely unlikely.
It’s basically next to impossible to get HIV from oral. But how difficult is it?
Look at it this way, if somebody living with HIV ejaculates in your mouth AND you have open sores or bleeding gums AND their cum comes in contact with the sores or bleeding areas, you MIGHT get infected. That makes the odds extremely low, like 0-.04% low. And if the person you're giving oral to is living with HIV but virally suppressed, you can't get HIV...period.
Why protection might still be a good idea
Despite the low risk of HIV transmission during oral, it’s still worth it to consider using some form of protection anyway. Here’s why:
- You can still get infected by other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis — from unprotected oral sex.
- You’re also at risk from the human papilloma virus (HPV).
- If you’re living with HIV, getting infected with a sexually transmitted infection can make it harder for your meds and your body to control the virus.
Bottom line: Oral sex can be amazing, but it’s still a good idea to consider protecting yourself.
Oral protection that keeps the feel-good
You can shower together (which is hot!) and think you’ve gotten your private bits clean enough to eat off of, but there still can be germs down there. When it comes to having smarter oral sex, the goal is maximum pleasure with minimum contact to viruses, bacteria, and anything else that can make you sick.
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Luckily, there are many ways you can reduce your risk during oral. Here are some of our favs!
- Get tested together! This is really freaking cute and it helps you both to know where you’re starting from. If neither of you have any STIs and you’re not seeing anyone else, then your risk is way lower! If one or both of you test positive for an STI, then you can take action to treat or cure it.
- Don’t let them cum in your mouth. While it might seem sucky (no pun intended), your risk for certain STIs is much lower if there’s little to no exchanging of fluids.
- Reduce the number of people you go down on. The fewer people you go down on, especially those with unknown STI statuses, the lower your chance of getting an infection.
- If you’re “S’ing that D”, try throwing a flavored condom on the recipient of your mind-blowing technique 😉
- If you’re going down on your partner’s vagina or booty, try a flavored dental dam! It’s basically a super thin sheet of rubber that lets you do what you do best all while keeping you safe and your tongue dancing happily to the flavor of paradise punch or French vanilla.
The important thing here, is to do you! We encourage you to find something(s) that work for you, use it, and get tested regularly.
A few thoughts how to have a licking good time
Probably the most important thing to remember: Consent is the first rule of sex. Don’t just assume your partner wants oral.
It’s tempting to think “who on earth doesn’t want oral?” But some people just aren’t into it. We recommend asking first. And if you don't like oral, you don’t have to let somebody force it on you. No means no.
Oral requires practice — listen carefully to how your partner responds. Make sure you know which sounds are giving you the “go” code. Do more of that, but don’t get carried away with one technique. We suggest having several tunes on your playlist.
Remember that everybody’s parts are different. What sends one partner to the moon might turn another one’s stomach.
Oh, and one last bit of advice…don’t brush or use mouth wash right before giving head!
Brushing can cause small cuts on your gums that HIV and other STIs can get into and mouth wash often has alcohol in it which makes your mouth super dry. No one likes a dry blowjob 😛
Safe oral is still great oral
All the willpower in the world melts under the hot sun of oral. We get that.
Here at Positive Peers, we believe great sex is one of the things that make for a great life. That’s why we want you to be informed and empowered to make the right choice for you and your health. Want to learn more, we’ve posted other blogs on:
- Internal condoms
- 6 kinds of condoms
- Getting the most from your groove lube
- Anal health and pleasure
- Sexy texting
- Time for PrEP
(All right, we’re obsessed with sex. It’s the media’s fault.)
Positive Peers is made possible through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, HIV/AIDS Bureau Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) Grant to The MetroHealth System. Click here for more information about the SPNS grant initiative.
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