How safe is oral sex?

Jan 1, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. ET

Somewhere along the line, oral sex supposedly became "the sex that won't cause HIV." Unfortunately, that isn't true. It may not be as common as with other forms of sexual activity, but oral sex can indeed cause HIV.

The idea is that the mouth is the "strongest" orifice, and unless semen comes into contact with a cut or open sore, then the chance for HIV would be very unlikely.

Fact: You can get HIV from oral sex.

True, this is not going to be as frequent as someone who engages in injectable drug use, anal or vaginal sex -- but it is. Additionally (and perhaps frighteningly) you can contract HIV through oral sex even where ejaculation does not occur.

Fact: When it comes to cunnilingus, the chances of getting HIV are lower.

In fact, there are only an extremely small amount of documented cases that are believed to have been a result of cunnilingus.

Fact: Not that this is for everyone, but HIV transmission from anilingus (mouth to anal region) is also not common.

Thus far, there have only been a small number of cases (fewer than five) that have listed anilingus as the cause for HIV. It is hard to put a specific number on the amount of people that have received HIV from oral sex practices. However, as it happens, you should do what you can to protect yourself. Latex condoms (sheepskin condoms are not effective against HIV) and dental dams may seem like mood killers -- but they also have the ability to make sure that you stay healthy and can save your life. No sexual act is worth your life, no matter how good you think it feels.