Estimated worldwide HIV infections: 49 519 475 at 11.10am on Thursday

Safe oral sex: The risk of a gay man acquiring HIV from oral sex is very low, according to a United States study published in the November edition of the journal AIDS.

Investigators recruited 239 gay men seeking anonymous HIV testing in San Francisco between December 1999 and 2001. The men had to complete a questionnaire about the type of sex they had had in the previous six months.
The researchers were keen to identify the population-attributable risk percentage of oral sex, because even a small individual risk of HIV transmission from oral sex for an individual could result in a substantial number of infections.

On average, the men had had receptive oral sex with three different men in the previous six months. The majority, 98%, of oral sex was without a condom and 35% of men reported getting semen in their mouths, 70% of whom swallowed.

None of the men in the study tested HIV-positive, meaning that the individual risk of being infected with HIV by oral sex was zero.

They noted that the prevalence of HIV among gay men reporting unprotected anal sex was 5,1% showing “the striking difference in the risk of HIV between those who report exclusively fellatio and those who report higher-risk sexual behaviours”.

The researchers also suggest that improper condom usage could result in more cases of HIV transmission among gay men than oral sex.


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