Oral sex, although not without its share of risk, is relatively safer when it comes to HIV transmission. This is because the risk of HIV transmission through oral sex is lower than the risk carried by vaginal and anal sex combined. However, some particular circumstances increase your chances of acquiring HIV through oral sex. It is also important to note that you could get other STDs through oral sex, aside from HIV.
HIV is transmitted through infected body fluids, including seminal and vaginal fluids. These fluids can transmit the virus when they come into contact with your blood or genital fluids. The virus enters your body by passing through membranes and multiplies to cause an infection.
THE RISK OF HIV TRANSMISSION THROUGH ORAL SEX
Generally, giving oral sex carries a higher risk of HIV infection than receiving it from your partner. Moreover, mouth to penis oral sex carries a higher risk of HIV transmission than other types of oral sex. All types of oral sex, including mouth-to-vagina (cunnilingus), mouth-to-anus (rimming/anilingus), and mouth-to-penis (fellatio) carry some risk of HIV transmission.
Acquiring HIV through oral sex requires special factors at play. These factors increase the likelihood of your blood coming into contact with the infected person’s bodily fluids. Once this contact is established, there is a significant risk of HIV transmission. These factors include:
- Having open sores in your mouth or genitals
- Active bleeding from the gums
- Your mouth coming into contact with menstrual blood
- Having other STDs
Having cuts or open sores in your mouth increases the chance of getting infected with HIV. This is because these cuts make it easier for the infected fluids to contact your blood. Sometimes, people have cuts and sores in their mouths without them realizing it. It is, thus, important to take protective measures when performing or receiving oral sex.
Having an active bleed from your gums increases the likelihood of your blood coming into contact with infected fluids. This risk is even aggravated when your female partner is close to or on their periods. Menstrual blood coming into contact with your oral mucosa increases the likelihood of getting HIV.
Having concurrent STDs is a major risk factor for acquiring HIV through oral sex. If you have other STDs, you might be at a greater risk for acquiring infection due to your lowered immunity status. Apart from the risk for HIV, performing oral sex on a female partner who has an STD increases your risk of acquiring that infection as well.
HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK OF HIV THROUGH ORAL SEX?
A lot can be done to minimize further the low risk of HIV infection associated with oral sex. These include:
- Not allowing your male partner to ejaculate in your mouth
- Always use a condom during oral sex
- Using dental dams during oral sex
- Avoiding activities like brushing teeth before oral sex (risk of active bleeding from gums)
- Avoiding having oral sex when your female partner is on her menstrual period
- Skipping oral sex when you have noticeable cuts, sores, or bleeds inside your mouth
- Avoiding oral sex if your partner has sores on their genitals and/or around their mouth