I’m gay and use a condom every time I have anal sex. However, I love giving and receiving oral sex (and swallowing). Can I catch HIV from oral sex? Wearing a condom in oral sex makes no sense. Is there some way to protect myself and partner from STIs?

Thanks for your question. Congrats on wanting to make sure you have safer sex. As you know there is a risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with any type of sex (whether oral, anal, or vaginal). This includes the risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This is why we recommend a condom (penile or vaginal) or dental dam with any sexual contact.

The risk of getting HIV during sex depends on the type of sex. The risk is highest for people who have anal sex, especially for the person who is receiving (i.e. receptive). The risk for HIV in penile-oral sex is lower with 0-4 transmissions per 10,000 sexual contacts. This risk is the same whether you give or receive penile-oral sex. This is why we still recommend using a condom.

Here are some tips on how to reduce your risk of an STI from oral sex:

  • Use a condom or dental dam. Consider using a flavored condom or dental dam.
  • Get tested for STIs at least once a year. Get tested more often if you have a new sexual partner or multiple sexual partners.
  • Make sure your sexual partner(s) have been tested for STIs.