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People often ask us which sexual practices have a relatively higher risk of HIV transmission and which have a relatively lower risk. In this video, Becky Kuhn, M.D. discusses the estimated risk of HIV transmission for mother-to-child transmission, needle sharing, and for some common sexual practices including anal sex, vaginal sex, and oral sex on men and women. These statistics are just estimates based on the currently available scientific information. The risk of contracting HIV from a partner will also vary at different times during their infection. A person who has contracted HIV is most infectious shortly after they have acquired the virus, known as primary HIV infection. The cited figures here are estimated average risks, and risk of transmitting HIV can be increased or decreased by many other factors. For example, for sexual contact, if either or both partners have other sexually transmitted diseases, the risk of HIV transmission will be increased. Remember, the averages won’t help you if you’re the one who becomes infected. For example, unprotected insertive oral sex on a man may carry an estimated risk of 1 chance of HIV transmission in 20,000, but if you are the one who gets infected, HIV transmission is still 100% for you. These statistics are not a license to engage in unprotected sex. Rather, they will hopefully help people to realize that all of the sexual practices we’ve listed carry some risk of HIV transmission, so it’s vital if you’re sexually active to always practice safer sex techniques such as the use of condoms.
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