HIV spreads through certain fluids such as semen, vaginal fluids, and blood. These are among the most likely ways to become infected with HIV. Most people know that HIV is transmitted via vaginal or anal sex with an infected partner. The chances of transmitting HIV through oral sex are very low. Nonetheless, there is a risk that HIV can be transmitted through oral sex.

The good news is that there are some things that you can do to reduce the risk.

Are There Different Risks for Different Types of Sex?

The NHS has established that oral sex is unlikely to spread HIV. Still, the risk does remain.

There’s a slight risk of transmission when you receive a blow job or mouth-to-penis sex. Probably the only way that HIV could be transmitted to you during a blow job is if the infected person has a mouth ulcer, cut or bleeding gums.

Oral-vaginal sex has even lower risk factors. No documented cases of HIV being transmitted through this method are recorded, but transmission theoretically is possible if the woman receiving cunnilingus is HIV positive and menstruating.

Anilingus, or oral-anal sex, has similarly low risks when it comes to HIV transmission.

When Does the Risk for HIV Transmission During Oral Sex Rise?

There are several factors that could include the risk of HIV transmission during oral sex. These include:

  • A higher viral load. If the HIV-positive partner has a higher viral load, then the chances of transmission increase.
  • Sores in the mouth. Having ulcers or cuts in the mouth may make oral sex riskier.
  • When a woman is menstruating. Similarly, menstruation can make HIV transmission more likely.
  • Having another STI. This can increase the risk of HIV, especially if you have an STI like herpes that causes sores on the skin.
  • A throat virus or infection. Having a virus or infection of the throat can make HIV transmission more likely. Nevertheless, the chances are still very low.

Can You Get HIV From Just Oral Sex?

It’s possible to get HIV from an infected partner through oral sex, but not likely. You are far more likely to acquire this virus through vaginal or anal sex than through any form of oral sex. In addition, you can get other sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhoea and syphilis, from oral sex. 

Consequently, it remains sensible to practice safe sex. Here are some tips:

  • Use dental dams during oral sex. These can help decrease the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Get tested for STIs. If you’ve had a sexual encounter with a new partner, protect yourself by selecting an STI test to verify your status.
  • Consider pre and post-exposure prophylaxis. Consider using pre-exposure prophylaxis daily if you’re sexually active with someone who’s HIV positive. A post-exposure prophylaxis is a wise measure after an encounter with a partner with an uncertain HIV status.


The risk of becoming infected with HIV through oral sex is very low. However, there are certain factors mentioned above that increase the risk.

It’s always a good idea to get tested for STIs regularly and before any new partner to verify your status. If you have had sexual contact with a partner with HIV, you should take a test as soon as possible.


  1. NHS: Can HIV be transmitted through oral sex (fellatio and cunnilingus)?
  2. Healthline: Can You Contract HIV Through Oral Sex?
  3. Symptoms of HIV

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