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FAQ: Can you get HIV through oral sex?

for Veterans and the Public

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you get HIV through oral sex?

The risk of getting HIV through receiving oral sex (that is, a partner's mouth on your genitals) is very, very low.

We can't say that there's zero risk, because there are a few cases of HIV infection in people who have no other known risk factors for HIV.

Also, we can imagine a scenario where an HIV-infected person's mouth is bleeding when he or she is giving oral sex. This could increase the risk of infecting the partner. But, in general, becoming infected with HIV by receiving oral sex is probably a very rare occurrence.

The risk of getting HIV through giving oral sex (that is, your mouth on a partner's genitals) is low compared with unprotected vaginal or anal sex, but there is some risk. The risk appears to be higher if you have cuts or sores in your mouth. Risk also appears to increase with the amount of your partner's fluids that contact your mouth and throat. If there is blood in these fluids, that probably increases the risk as well.

Of course, if your partner is not HIV infected, there is no risk of getting HIV. But if your partner is HIV positive, or you are not sure, it makes sense to use a condom or other barrier (a latex sheet, for example) for oral sex, or to take PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). (See tips for using condoms and dental dams and FAQs on PrEP for more information.)