A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control
Hello! I have two related questions about oral transmission risk. QUESTION (1) On the tables for risk for various types of acts, it sometimes says “giver” or “receiver” but does that mean “to giver” or “from giver”? My guess is “to giver” but I wanted to make completely sure. On the oral sex table, “HIV (giver)” falls under “not commonly passed.” I already know that HIV can’t be passed through saliva alone, so “HIV (giver)” must mean HIV is passed from the receiver “to the giver”? (Consistently, “HIV (Receiver)” is listed under “Not passed, or passed only in theory” – in that the female receiving oral sex cannot get it from her partner, because she can’t get it from their saliva.) Is this correct? Thank you! QUESTION (2) How big does a cut have to be in the mouth (e.g., on tongue, cheeks) in order to pass HIV through various mouth-related acts? This is pretty gross, but I have a nervous habit of biting my tongue and ripping of the papillae, and biting my cheeks. Also, sometimes I get cut eating sharp chips. Again, I know that transferring HIV in saliva is basically impossible, but what would the chance be if, say, both people have small open wounds in the mouth, such as the ones I described? Would both partners have to have cuts? In each case, would it fall under “not commonly passed” or “can be passed”? And what about risks for the same situation (mouth wounds) for the other reportable infections? Thank you kindly!

Hi, thanks for writing in with your questions.
Question 1. You are correct.  HIV is not transmitted in saliva. The oral sex risk chart includes both partners in the oral sex so what the transmission risk is to either the giver or the receiver. 
Question 2.  HIV is transmitted through blood and sexual fluids like semen and vaginal discharge.  This happens on a microscopic level. A cut in the mouth can be a way for HIV to be transmitted. Of course unprotected oral sex is not recommended if there is any open bleeding cuts in the mouth, any bleeding gums after tooth brushing or any dental surgery until the area has healed. The good news is that cuts heal quickly due to the great blood supply to the mouth. The exception to this is healing takes longer for smokers. As for other STI’s that could be transmitted this way through a cut in the mouth: Hepatitis C is transmitted by blood  and so if the person with an open bleeding cut in their mouth was exposed to blood from the person who has Hepatitis C there is a possibility of Hepatitis C being transmitted. However this is not the way that Hepatitis C is most commonly transmitted. The most common way is through sharing intravenous needles for drug use. 
Hope this helps. Health Nurse

This answer was posted on November 22, 2016

Community comments

No comments yet.

Add a comment

Log in or register to post comments