As a sexual outreach worker, the question I hear the most is: “What’s the risk of sucking dick or getting my dick sucked?”
Considering how often we give or get blowjobs, it’s surprising that this question is so common. It suggests that 25 years of HIV education campaigns haven’t always been easy to understand or make use of. It also suggests that Ottawa guys do care about their own health and the health of their partner and they do want to find ways to have erotic hook ups while minimizing the amount of risk they’re exposed to.
Blow jobs can be hot, easy to do quickly or discreetly, and let us play around with dominance and submission. And oral sex is less risky than anal sex, which means for some of us it can be easier to get into psychologically. That said, knowing a few things will help keep you and your sex partners safe.
For the cocksuckers
The HIV risk level when sucking cock is low. What’s low mean? That there’s a potential for transmission and we have evidence of it happening. How would that work? Well remember, even if one partner is HIV+ and one is HIV-, HIV can only be shared if an infected body fluid (cum, pre-cum, or blood) finds its way into the bloodstream of the HIV- partner. In the rare examples of this happening when sucking cock, it’s usually due to bleeding gums, cuts, sores, ulcers, chapped lips, burns, or recent dental work.
So what about swallowing? Does that increase risk? Apparently not. There are enzymes in the throat, stomach and saliva that partly inhibit HIV. Risk increases if you take cum or pre-cum in your mouth in the first place, but after that it doesn’t make much difference if you spit or swallow.
Bottom line: Unless your mouth is unhealthy or wounded, the risk of contracting HIV from sucking dick is pretty low.
For the guys getting sucked off
The HIV risk level for the guy getting sucked is lower than it is for the guy sucking. Although transmission is theoretically possible while getting a blowjob, we have no recorded evidence of it ever happening.
So how could it theoretically happen? Well, if an HIV+ cocksucker was blowing his HIV- buddy and he had bleeding gums or sores or cuts in his mouth, his blood could come into contact with a sore or cut on the HIV- dude’s dick. Also, the skin inside the piss slit is a membrane that HIV can pass right through. But again: we have no recorded evidence of it happening.
Bottom line: Check your dick for abrasions, cuts, nicks from shaving or sores that could be STDs. But don’t let it stress you out of proportion. The chances of sharing HIV this way are pretty remote.
Here are some simple ways to lower the risk of sucking dick:
- 1. There are considerate ways to ask a guy if he knows his status: “Hey, I got tested for STDs and HIV about two months ago and I was positive / negative for _____. What about you?”
- 2. It’s safer to get sucked than it is to suck.
- 3. It’s safer not to let a guy cum (or pre-cum) in your mouth.
- 4. Visit a dentist if you can and brush and floss your teeth regularly.
- 5. Avoid brushing or flossing one to two hours before and after sucking cock.
- 6. Get tested for STDs. Already having an STD makes it easier to share HIV.
- 7. Get vaccinated for hepatitis A & B.
- 8. We all have different comfort levels around risk. If the reality of your life requires you to aim for zero risk, condoms are an option.
AIDS paranoia tends to overshadow consideration of more ordinary STDs that are way easier to share through blow jobs. Many STDs like syphilis, gonorrhea, warts, herpes, and chlamydia can be spread by simple skin-to-skin contact. So your lips touching the syphilitic sore on his balls while deep throating his shaft can be all it takes. Damn! But keep it in perspective: STDs are easily detected if you make testing part of your routine and many can be cured with a short round of meds. About 70 percent of us already have warts and yet the sexual world keeps on turnin’. And like a bitter queen at the bar, herpes is a bitch you’d rather avoid, but it ain’t gonna make or break ya.
Bottom line: Giving and getting head is awesome and you don’t have to avoid it for fear of HIV. Though there is a risk, the risk is very small, and when it comes to oral sex, STDs are a bigger concern. Giving head and getting tested regularly is probably a safer route than avoiding blowjobs but never knowing your status. Besides, depriving ourselves of reasonably safe pleasure sucks even harder than I do on a good Saturday night.