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HIV and AIDS

Is French Kissing A Safe Practice For HIV Prevention?

04/25/2005

Question:

You have previously addressed the issue of HIV and saliva, but I have just read, in the latest issue of POZ, that the quantity of HIV virus present in saliva is so low that transmission cannot occur, with regard to french kissing. Making it a virtually safe practice, barring any possible cuts or venues for an exchange. Is this true? My boyfriend and I are both positive and in love. We want to kiss passionately!

Answer:

You are correct that the quantity of HIV in saliva is very low, but I would not state that transmission cannot occur during "french kissing".  I think the chances would be extremely low, and approach zero, but conceivably a situation could occur where there was some in the saliva of the infected individual, and some openings in the mucosa (inner cheeks, gums) of the other partner, allowing transmission to occur.  Again, a remote, but not impossible situation.

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Response by:

Peter Grubbs, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati