Oral sex : Is it dangerous??

In January a community forum was held in San Francisco to discuss oral sex and HIV transmission.

According to Paul O'Mailey of the San Francisco Health Department, a study was conducted of 675 gay and bi - sexual men between 184 - 1992. In the study 49 of the participants became HIV positive.

This study can be interpreted to suggest that less than one percent of the participnats attributed their HIV conversion to oral sex.

O'Malley says that HIV transmission does occur but that it does not appear to fuel the epidemic.

Oral sex is considered low risk compared to anal sex because the mucus membrane in the mouth is thicker than the membrane in the anus. Also , saliva may be an ihibiting factor to virus transmission.

O'Malley warned that people should not bursh their teeth just before giving oral sex. There is some potential risk from pre - cum; however, this risk is probbaly lower due to the amount of fluid.

Participants were also reminded that HIV is present in all body fluids including vaginal fluids, so that oral sex with a woman also has risk attached. One should avoid ingesting menstrual fluids.

In addition to HIV, there are other sexually transmitted diseases which are definitely more infections than HIV and may be life - threatening to people who are HIV positive. As their names implies, sexually transmitted diseases, STD's for short, are transmitted by unprotected sexual activity. Protection for HIV and STD's consist of using a latex barrier such as a male or female condom.

As always, the study should be interpreted with caution. It can interpreted to mean what you want it to mean.

Oral sex may be safer than anal sex, except if you were one of the 49 people who became HIV infected.

The Arrow Archer recommends that you talk about the risks of HIV transmission with your partner, pracice safer sex and get tested for HIV.

(Bay Area Reporter 1/25/96)

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Last updated : Saturday, October 19, 1996
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