AIDS, Gay Men and Oral Sex

Dear Christine,

Can you get AIDS from male to male oral sex?



Dear Jack,

AIDS is not a disease so itís not something you get from sexual or other close contact. AIDS a category of 26 familiar diseases and one condition that involves no illness, a T cell count of 200 or less in the absence of clinical symptoms.

Certainly, some of the diseases in the AIDS category are contagious. Tuberculosis (TB) for example, is an AIDS defining condition that can be passed from one person to another under particular circumstances. Many of the diseases in the AIDS category are not contagious however. Diarrhea, Kaposiís sarcoma (KS), dementia, lymphoma, and cervical cancer are a few non-contagious AIDS-defining illnesses.

Itís possible you might catch TB from close contact with a person who has TB although oral sex is not a likely mode of transmission. Also, you would have to be susceptible to TB infection. Great numbers of healthcare workers come into daily contact with TB patients without getting TB. Contrary to what we might expect, I know of HIV positive healthcare professionals that do not take the supposedly immune protecting AIDS drugs and work in urban hospitals where TB is common without getting TB themselves.

With regard to becoming HIV positive through male to male oral sex, a recent forum on gay male oral sex in San Francisco revealed that in the entire history of AIDS, there have been just five HIV positives with claimed cases of AIDS through male to male oral sex. I think itís worth noting that none of these five cases were investigated to rule out other potential explanations for positive HIV test results or other non-HIV health risks that can lead to a diagnosis of AIDS.


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