The virus is transmitted between partners when the fluids of one person come into contact with the blood stream of another person. This contact can occur from a cut or broken skin, or through the tissues of the vagina, rectum, foreskin, or the opening of the penis. Oral sex ranks very low on the list of ways HIV can be transmitted. However, the risk of contracting HIV through oral sex is not zero. The truth is, you can in theory still contract HIV this way. It may be difficult to know where the transmission occurred.
After more than 35 years of epidemiological and biomedical research, the question of whether you can get HIV from oral sex remains confusing. So let's start by separating hypotheticals from the hard facts and statistics. If asking can a person get HIV from oral sex, the honest answer would have to be possible but unlikely. With that being said, the word "can" suggests a theoretic possibility that many find difficult to dismiss. Whenever discussing HIV risk, it is important to differentiate between a theoretic and documented risk.
HIV infects humans and causes damage by taking over cells in the immune system—the part of the body that usually works to fight off germs, bacteria and disease. When that happens, the body may not be able to fight off certain types of illnesses or cancers. If the infection is not detected and treated, the immune system gradually weakens and AIDS develops. HIV and AIDS are terms that are often used together, and sometimes are used interchangeably, though they are not the same thing. If you are worried about a recent potential exposure, go to the emergency room and ask for PEP post-exposure prophylaxis as soon as you can.
This article is also available in Simplified Chinese and Thai. So that perhaps explains the reason why we get asked this sensible question so often: does oral sex put me at risk of getting HIV? Oral sex is generally considered to be very low risk for HIV transmission. Risk can increase if there are sores, abrasions or cuts in the mouth or following a dental procedure like tooth extraction.