What Is The Risk From Oral Sex
According to Public Health England, around 1-3% of sexual HIV transmissions in the UK are because of oral sex. Other studies found that the risk is very low but is not zero.
The risks are higher if the person giving oral sex has:
- cuts, sores or abrasions in their mouth or gums
- a sore throat or infection in the mouth or throat.
Or if the person receiving oral sex is:
Reducing Your Personal Hiv Risk
Arguably the most important factor in assessing the likelihood of HIV transmission is the infected person’s viral load. Data suggests that the risk of an HIV-infected person with an undetectable viral load transmitting the virus is essentially zero.
The strategy called treatment as prevention strongly supports the use of antiretroviral therapy to reduce the infectivity of a person with HIV. It also reinforces the need for early testing to mitigate risk in mixed-status couples.
Knowing your serostatus and that of your partner allows you to make an informed choice on how to better protect yourselveswhether it be to abstain from high-risk activities, use condoms, or explore pre-exposure prophylaxis as a means to reduce the HIV-negative partner’s susceptibility to infection.
Multiple Vulnerabilities Increase Risk In Men And Women
Vaginal sex between partners is one of the most common ways a person can acquire HIV. Both women and men can be put at risk when they have vaginal sex without using a condom.
There are a number of risk factors shared by both partners. There also are reasons for why men may be at risk, and other reasons for why women may be far more likely to become infected with HIV.
This article discusses why vaginal sex presents an HIV risk for both men and women. It explains why anatomical differences, cultural norms, and even how well HIV treatment works can affect that risk.
Nikom1234 / Getty Images
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The Chance Of Hiv Transmission With Protection
The likelihood of HIV transmission goes down by 70% when condoms are used. This table summarizes the chance of contracting HIV through one-time contact when protection is used.
|Protected receptive vaginal
|Protected insertive vaginal
|Protected receptive rectal
|Protected insertive rectal
|1 transmission per 4,167 exposures
|1 transmission per 8,334 exposures
|1 transmission per 241 exposures
|1 transmission per 3,030 exposures
The numbers in this table are calculated based on the chance of transmission without protection and the 70% reduction in HIV transmission with condom use.
Putting A Number On It: The Risk From An Exposure To Hiv
This information was provided by CATIE . For more information, contact CATIE at 1-800-263-1638.
Author: James Wilton
Service providers working in HIV prevention are often asked by their patients and clients about the risk of HIV transmission from an exposure to HIV through sex. What do the latest studies tell us about this risk? And how should we interpret and communicate the results?
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Hiv Treatment As Prevention
People with HIV can take ART to lower their chance of transmitting HIV to others.
ART reduces the quantity of HIV in the body, or viral load, and keeps it at a low level.
The term viral load refers to the number of HIV copies per milliliter of blood.
Healthcare professionals define successful viral suppression as having a viral load of fewer than of HIV per milliliter of blood. Achieving and maintaining viral suppression significantly reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
Other ways to prevent HIV transmission include:
- using a condom or other barrier method during sex
- reducing the number of sexual partners
- getting vaccinated against other STIs, such as HPV and hepatitis B
- avoiding using injectable drugs, if possible
- if using injectable drugs, avoiding sharing needles and syringes
- following all workplace safety protocols
People can speak with a doctor to learn more about their individual risk of contracting HIV.
Anyone concerned about HIV exposure should contact a healthcare professional or a local emergency room to get testedand receive PEP.
Reducing The Risk From Oral Sex
The risk from unprotected oral sex with someone with a detectable viral load increases if you have:
- a throat infection
- damage to the lining of the mouth or throat
- had recent dental work or your gums bleed a lot.
Avoid performing oral sex without protection on someone with a detectable viral load while you have any of the above.
Dont floss or brush teeth before oral sex . Regular check-ups for STIs will pick up infections in your throat.
Remember that other STIs can also be passed on through oral sex, including herpes, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis.
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How Could Hiv Infect The Mouth And Throat
HIV is not able to infect most cells in the mouth. Only one cell type found in the mouth is vulnerable to HIV infection .
The tissue of the mouth and oesophagus is also very thick compared with genital tissues, and fluids stay in contact with it for a very short time because swallowing clears the mouth regularly. The mouth is therefore generally regarded as an unlikely route of HIV transmission.
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Challenges In Calculating A Number
It isn’t easy for researchers to calculate the risk of transmission from an exposure to HIV through sex. To do this effectively, a group of HIV-negative individuals need to be followed over time and their exposures to HIVboth the number of times they are exposed and the types of exposureneed to be tracked.
As you can imagine, accurately tracking the number of times a person is exposed to HIV is very difficult. Researchers ask HIV-negative individuals enrolled in these studies to report how many times they have had sex in a given period of time, what type of sex they had, how often they used condoms and the HIV status of their partner. Because a person may have trouble remembering their sexual behaviour or may not want to tell the whole truth, this reporting is often inaccurate.
Furthermore, a person does not always know the HIV status of their partner. For this reason, researchers usually enroll HIV-negative individuals who are in stable relationships with an HIV-positive partner . Researchers can then conclude that any unprotected sex reported by a study participant counts as an exposure to HIV.
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Tattoos And Body Piercings
- There are no known cases in the United States of anyone getting HIV this way.
- However, it is possible to get HIV from tattooing or body piercing if the equipment used for these procedures has someone elses blood in it or if the ink is shared. This is more likely to happen when the person doing the procedure is unlicensed because of the potential for unsanitary practices such as sharing needles or ink.
- If you get a tattoo or a body piercing, be sure that the person doing the procedure is properly licensed and that they use only new or sterilized needles, ink, and other supplies.
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The Chance Of Hiv Transmission Through One
This table shows the chance of contracting HIV through one-time unprotected rectal sex with a partner who is HIV-positive. As you can see, the chance of the âbottomâ person contracting the disease from an HIV-positive âtopâ is much greater than the other way around.
|1 transmission per 72 exposures
|1 transmission per 909 exposures
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What Puts You At Risk For Stds And Hiv
You’re at risk if you:
- Have sex without using a condom, with someone who is infected.
- Have had an STD.
- Have more than one sex partner.
- Are under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
- Many women have STDs without having symptoms. This means that unless she gets tested, she may have an STD and not know it.
If you are a woman, take charge of your sexual health. Be sure to schedule pelvic exams and pap smears every year. Get tested and learn how to protect yourself from STDs and HIV.
Odds Of Getting Herpes From One Encounter
Although herpes can have noticeable symptoms, you wont necessarily know the person youre with has herpes. Its actually likely to get it without seeing symptoms. Thats because approximately 70 percent of the times herpes is spread it happens when the person is going through an asymptomatic period when symptoms are not present.
What are the chances of getting herpes from one unprotected encounter? The risk of getting herpes is about 10 percent for a woman catching it from a man or about four percent for a man getting it from a woman. Using condoms tends to reduce the risk of spreading herpes by about 30 percent. Condoms dont help as much for herpes as they do for STDs that only pass through bodily fluids because you can get herpes through skin contact.
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The Chance Of Hiv Transmission Through Needles: With Blood Transfusion Needle Sharing And Needle Prick
This table shows the chance of contracting HIV by means other than sex. Please note the much higher likelihood of getting HIV through needle sharing.
|1 transmission per 500 exposures
|1 transmission per 160 exposures
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If I Get Infected Fluid From An Hiv
No, HIV is not always passed on from someone living with HIV. There are lots of reasons why this is the case. For example, if the HIV-positive person is on effective treatment it will reduce the amount of HIV in their body. If a doctor confirms that the virus has reached undetectable levels it means there is no risk of passing it on.
If youre concerned that youve been exposed to HIV you may be eligible to take post-exposure prophylaxis , which stops the virus from becoming an infection. However its not available everywhere and has to be taken within 72 hours of possible exposure to be effective.
Its really important to take a HIV test every time you think you have been at risk of HIV.
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Is Deep Kissing A Route Of Hiv Transmission
Deep or open-mouthed kissing is a very low risk activity in terms of HIV transmission. HIV is only present in saliva in very minute amounts, insufficient to cause infection with HIV. There has been only one documented case of someone becoming infected with HIV through kissing a result of exposure to infected blood during open-mouthed kissing. If you or your partner have blood in your mouth, you should avoid kissing until the bleeding stops.
Can I Transmit Hiv To My Baby During Pregnancy Or Breastfeeding
An HIV-infected pregnant woman can pass the virus on to her unborn baby either before or during birth. HIV can also be passed on during breastfeeding. If a woman knows that she is infected with HIV, there are drugs she can take to greatly reduce the chances of her child becoming infected. Other ways to lower the risk include choosing to have a caesarean section delivery and not breastfeeding.
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How Do You Get Hiv
You can only get HIV if specific bodily fluids of someone who has HIV get into your body. A person with HIV can pass the virus to others whether they have symptoms or not.
There are a lot of myths around how HIV is passed from one person to another but there are only a few ways you can get it. Plus, the good news is that there are things you can do to protect yourself and others.
Is There Risk Of Hiv Transmission When Having A Tattoo Body Piercing Or Getting A Hair Cut Or Shave
There is a risk of HIV transmission if instruments contaminated with blood are not sterilized between clients. However, people who carry out body piercing or tattooing should follow procedures called ‘universal precautions’, which are designed to prevent the transmission of blood borne infections such as HIV and Hepatitis B.
When having a hair cut there is no risk of infection unless the skin is cut and infected blood gets into the wound. Traditional ‘cut-throat’ razors used by barbers now have disposable blades, which should only be used once, thus eliminating the risk from blood-borne infections such as Hepatitis and HIV.
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How To Prevent The Spread Of Hiv
People living with HIV can use the following to prevent transmitting it to others:
- Preexposure prophylaxis : This daily pill contains two antivirals: Tenofovir and emtricitabine. When a person takes it daily, PrEP can reduce the risk of acquiring HIV through sex by 99%. PrEP is for those who do not have HIV but are at a high risk of contracting it.
- Postexposure prophylaxis : ART drugs that can prevent HIV infection after potential exposure. The CDC recommend starting PEP within of a recent potential HIV exposure.
Can I Become Infected With Hiv If I Inject Drugs And Share The Needles With Someone Else Without Sterilizing The Needles
We strongly recommend that you use new equipment every time you inject. You can get new equipment from Counterpoint Needle & Syringe Program at Regional HIV/AIDS Connection.
There is a possibility of becoming infected with HIV if you share injecting equipment with someone who has the virus. If HIV infected blood remains inside the needle or in the syringe and someone else then uses it to inject themselves, that blood can be flushed into the bloodstream. Sharing needles, syringes, spoons, filters or water can pass on the virus. Disinfecting equipment between uses can reduce the likelihood of transmission, but does not eliminate it.
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What About Other Stis
So HIV isnt a high risk when youre giving/getting head, but that doesnt mean youre protected from any other STIs.
You can get syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia from blowjobs, as well as other types of inflammation caused by bacteria in the mouth. So while youre relatively safe from HIV, if youre having oral sex with multiple partners you should be getting tested for STIs at least once every three months.
Chance Of Getting Hiv From One Encounter
It would be great to know how many times it takes to get HIV, but unfortunately, there is no guarantee that even with a risk of less than 1%, that someone will not get HIV from one encounter. So, even though there is a relatively small chance of getting HIV from a one-night stand or engaging in sexual activity with an infected partner once, the overall chance of getting infected increases with repeated exposure. Additionally, suppose the HIV-negative partner has an STI. In that case, the risk of getting HIV from an infected partner is higher, partially due to the possibility of having an open sore or ulcer.
As you can see, the most significant risk of exposure is non-sexual through a blood transfusion. So, while sexual activity is a major source of transmission, with proper preventative measures, the risk can be lowered. However, as with anything, understanding the risk is critical in making the choice that is right for you, and the only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested.
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Chances Of Getting An Std From Oral
Its hard to know whether your odds are higher with oral or penetrative sex. Thats because there havent been many studies on it and because people often have both types of sex, so its hard to separate them. Its best to assume that you could get an STD from any type of sexual contact, which is true. When any type of sexual contact is unprotected, the risk is higher.
You have an STD oral sex risk from these STDs:
Its also possible to get hepatitis A from oral sex, and this infection is sometimes considered an STD because it can be spread through sexual contact as well as through other means.
The Mouth Cancer Link
Actor Michael Douglas, perhaps best known for his outstanding performance in the 1985 adventure The Jewel of the Nile, drew attention a few years ago: he was diagnosed with cancer at the back of his mouth . He made headlines when he suggested the cancer had been caused by giving oral sex to his famous and no less talented wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Was did he mean? He was referring to a virus called human papillomavirus which scientists have discovered can actually cause some kind of cancers: cervical cancer,penile cancer and oropharyngeal cancer. The theory is that he may have caught the virus from the genital area of a woman, which led to him developing cancer of the throat.
Nowadays, in the western world, teenage girls are offered a vaccination against the HPV virus which has cut the number of people who are developing those cancers.
In fact Michael Douglas later changed his story, confirming that he did in fact have tongue cancer ! The good news is hes made a full recovery. But its important to know the main causes of throat cancer and tongue cancer are smoking and drinking too much alcohol .
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