First Published: Before August 2002
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.
A new study just released finds that the risk of acquiring HIV through unprotected oral sex is "very very low". The results come from the "HOT study" (HIV Oral Transmission study) presented at the recently held National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta.

Ninety-eight percent of the subjects involved reported having unprotected oral sex with a male partner, with 20 percent saying they had given a blowjob to an HIV-positive partner. The study involves 198 men, primarily gay and bisexual, who only engaged in oral sex during the period of the study.

Previous research has assumed that some types of oral sex may pose a higher risk than others, but the HOT study is the first to try and isolate the risk factors, such as sucking off someone with an STD, swallowing cum, or giving head to a guy with open sores in the mouth or gum disease.
"The take-home message is that oral sex is safer sex than other types, such as anal sex or even protected anal sex," said principle investigator Dr. Kimberly Page-Shafer.

The HOT study seems to contradict recent research that found that as many as 8 percent of people newly infected with HIV acquired the virus through oral sex.

However, Dr Page-Shafer emphasised that oral sex is safer sex, not safe sex. "While our study is the first to attempt to systematically define the risk, case reports exist of infections acquired through oral contact.

While rare, acquiring HIV infection orally is possible and many other sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and syphilis are transmitted orally."

If you are still unsure whether it's safe to suck off, here's our low down on going low down, together with other safer sex factsheets provided by the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California San Francisco:

Does HIV Prevention Work?
Do Condoms Work?
What Is Testing's Role in HIV Prevention?
Does Needle Exchange Work?
Can Healthcare Workers Help With HIV Prevention?
What Are Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM)'s HIV Prevention Needs?
What Are the HIV Prevention Needs of Young Men Who Have Sex With Men?
What Are Adolescents' HIV Prevention Needs?
Does Sex Education Work?
Is HIV Prevention a Good Investment?
Are Informal Caregivers Important in AIDS Care?
What Are Sex Workers' HIV Prevention Needs?
We Know What Works in HIV Prevention - Why Aren't We Doing More of It?
What Are Substance Abusers' HIV Prevention Needs?
What Are Heterosexual Men's HIV Prevention Needs?
Do New HIV Drugs Affect HIV Prevention?
What Are HIV Prevention Needs of Adults Over 50?
Should We Teach Only Abstinence in Sexuality Education?
What Is Post-Exposure Prevention (PEP)?
Is Hepatitis C (HCV) Transmission Preventable?
What Are HIV+ Persons' HIV Prevention Needs?
Can an HIV Vaccine Help in HIV Prevention?
Can Barrier Methods Help in HIV Prevention?

See OutReach for a full listing of HIV and AIDS resources and advice organisations


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