for Veterans and the Public
What is risky sex?
Risky sex is sex that may lead to infection of an HIV-negative individual. As indicated earlier, there are many ways to decrease the risk of HIV infection, like (for the HIV-positive partner) taking anti-HIV medications (ART) every day, or (for the HIV-negative partner) using PrEP, or (for partners of any HIV status) using condoms or other latex barriers during sex.
HIV is passed through body fluids such as semen, vaginal, or anal 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:
- Anal sex without a condom (penis in the anus)
- Vaginal sex without a condom (penis in the vagina)
- 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
- Hugging, massage
- 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.