Is oral sex safe?

One of the most often asked questions regarding sex and HIV is “can I get HIV from oral sex without using a condom?”

The short answer is yes. Although a lot of sexual health experts put oral sex into the “safer sex” category, there is a degree of risk. Using condoms for oral sex is your safest bet.  With that said, if you’re not going to use a condom, the following are ways to reduce your risk even more: 

  • Don’t brush or floss your teeth for at least an hour before giving head. You can use a mouthwash, breath mint, or gum instead. This will keep the number of tears and cuts in our mouth to a minimum.
  • Try not to eat abrasive foods (like tortilla chips, French bread, pretzels, etc.) for the same reasons.
  • In general, it’s also a good idea to maintain excellent oral hygiene to prevent the possibility of easy tears/cuts in the mouth. If your gums bleed when you brush, you need to step up your oral hygiene—talk to your dentist about what to do.  
  • Avoid getting semen in your mouth; semen contains active HIV. If you do get semen in your mouth, as the saying goes, “Swallow or spit, just don’t let it sit.” The longer semen in your mouth, the more potential for HIV to find an entry point into your body.
  • Avoid deep throating since this can cause abrasions in the throat. Pre-cum/semen can come into contact with these abrasions, creating an effective entry point for HIV infection.

For more information about oral sex and HIV, you can check out the following links: and


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