Can HIV be transmitted through wounds or kissing?

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Offline SK_SA

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SK asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi Chris

I was newbielink: [nonactive] on Redi Tlhabi's show on 702 this morning.

Thanks for all your science information.

Chris, I now and then sleep with prostitutes and always wonder whether a man can catch HIV even if he used a condom and the condom did not break?

There are things that I always avoid because I think they might be risky. For instance, I never let my hands get into contact with the condom when it comes out if there are some wounds on my hands. My friends say I am paranoid BUT I always avoid sex with a prostitute IF I have some wounds like those where the skin comes off where the nail meets the flesh. I also avoid kissing any female when I have bitten my toungue or have a woumd in my mouth (they also call that paranoid but I am always scared that if the girl has bleeding gums maybe she might infect me through the wound in my mouth).

Which leads me to my second question. Regardless of whether a  man / woman has a wound in the mouth, if the other person being kissed has bleeding gums, can the other person catch HIV from that kiss?

Thanking you in advance


What do you think?
« Last Edit: 23/05/2011 17:30:03 by _system »


Offline CliffordK

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Can HIV be transmitted through wounds or kissing?
« Reply #1 on: 23/05/2011 23:06:13 »
It sounds to me like a risky proposition. 

The notes that I'm seeing indicate that saliva creates an unfavorable environment for the virus, and that kissing has either a zero transmission rate, or extremely low transmission rate. 

While HIV can't enter through intact skin, it can enter through mucous membranes without cuts which would include the mouth, nose, eyes, and digestive tract, so cuts, or a lack of cuts in a healthy individual's mouth would not make a big difference as you still have a mucous membrane in and around the mouth.  Cuts, lesions, ulcers, etc in an infected individual's mouth might make a difference, but the risk of oral transmission remains low.

Breaks in your skin on your hands or other parts of the body would create more potential entry points for the virus, but would still require contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions.

Overall, you have to decide whether a few minutes of pleasure is worth the risk.  And, while you may not know the status of your partners, you might consider the prevalence of the disease in the population based on where you are.  I.E. some African nations may nave nearly 100% prevalence among their prostitutes which would certainly increase your risk.