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HIV/AIDS

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What is risky sex?

for Veterans and the Public

What is risky sex?

HIV is passed through body fluids such as semen, vaginal fluid, or blood. The less contact you have with these, the lower the risk. The most sensitive areas where these fluids are risky are in the vagina or anus and rectum (ass). The protective tissue there is thin, and is easily torn, which makes it easier for the virus to enter your body. Saliva (spit) and tears aren't risky.

In general, vaginal or anal sex without a condom is the most risky.

Here is a list of sexual activities organized by level of risk to help you and your partner make decisions:

High risk

  • Anal sex without a condom (penis in the anus)
  • Vaginal sex without a condom (penis in the vagina)

Low risk

  • Sex with a condom when you use it correctly
  • Oral sex, but don't swallow semen (cum)
  • Deep kissing (French kissing or tongue kissing)
  • Sharing sex toys that have been cleaned or covered with a new condom between uses

No risk

  • Hugging, massage
  • Masturbation
  • Fantasizing
  • Dry kissing
  • Phone sex
  • Cyber sex
  • Using sex toys that you don't share

You can find details on protective barriers like condoms on the Resources page at the end of this section.