How can I make sucking (oral sex on a man) safer?

    You can download a PDF of this brochure at the bottom of this page.

    Sucking a man's cock (penis) without a condom is low-risk for getting HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). However, ‘low-risk’ does not mean ‘no risk’ for HIV, and certainly does not mean low-risk for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Syphilis is currently of particular concern for men who have oral sex with other men.

    To reduce the risk of HIV infection, you can:
    • avoid flossing or brushing your teeth for at least 30 minutes before, and right after sucking so that there are no open cuts in the mouth. If you smoke, you may wish to wait two hours - not everyone's mouth heals at the same rate and several factors can affect how quickly your mouth heals after a cut. Scientists have found that a smoker's mouth takes longer to heal.)
    • stop sucking before he ejaculates (cums);
    • suck and lick only the shaft and balls, avoiding the head of his cock.
    If you want to eliminate the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), use a non-lubricated or flavoured latex condom.

    The person who is being sucked is at no real risk of HIV infection, but could get other STIs.

    If you are living with HIV, STIs can affect you differently from someone not living with HIV. Having both HIV and another STI can make it more difficult to treat your STI, it can drive up your viral load (a measure of the amount of HIV in your blood), it can speed up the progression of the STI, and it can increase the chances of getting serious complications such as cancer or lesions. Many STIs are curable, but they can have serious temporary or permanent health consequences for people living with HIV if they remain undiagnosed and untreated.

    If you suck without a condom, get your throat swabbed during your regular STI check-up every six months, or more frequently if you are HIV-positive. By getting regularly tested for STIs, you will know if you have an infection, and you can then get the STI treated as soon as possible. This is important, as having an STI can double or even triple your chances of becoming infected with HIV. If you are already HIV-positive, an STI increases your ability to transmit HIV, because it increases your viral load. STIs can also (theoretically) increase your chances of “superinfection” with HIV (being infected with a different strain of the same virus you already have).
    STIs can increase the amount of HIV (viral load) in the semen and vaginal fluids of a person living with HIV, even while HIV remains undetectable in their blood.

    For more information, e-mail ACT or check out our new Safer Oral Sex brochure (below) for tips on how to keep yourself and your partner healthy, happy, and horny.

Revised March 2013

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