HIV/AIDS General Info


"Here at the hotline, we focus on HIV since that is the most serious type of STI.  But there are other sexually transmitted diseases and infections as well, and so when I'm talking about safer-sex, I'm talking specifically about HIV."

The way that HIV can transmit is by getting certain very specific fluids from one person’s body directly into another person.        
The fluids that you have to be most concerned with are blood, semen (cum), maybe pre-cum, and vaginal fluids.
If you’re going to be with anyone, the safest thing to do is assume that it’s possible that the person you are with might have been exposed to HIV at some point in their past, and protect yourself based on that possibility. That way you won’t have to guess about the other person.

If callers/chatters have questions on other STIs or more detailed information on sexual activities they can contact the

Sex, Gender and Relationship Hotline, 415-989-7374, (Formerly the San Francisco Sex Information Switchboard).

Sex between HIV-negative partners: NO RISK

You cannot get HIV by being sexually active in any way with someone who is HIV-negative. You should always assume that your partner(s) may have been exposed to HIV at some point in the past, and protect yourself based on that possibility.  There is no way to know for sure if someone is HIV+ at the moment you are having sex with them.  However, if you knew for a scientific fact that neither partner was exposed to HIV, then you cannot create HIV between you.

HIV risk for no-contact sexual behaviors: NO RISK

There is no risk of HIV for behaviors such as masturbation or other sexual activities, which do not involve contact with another person because there is no exchange of bodily fluids which can transmit HIV.

HIV risk for being gay/bi: NO RISK

There is no inherent risk of HIV for simply being LGBT. There are some misconceptions out there (primarily as a result of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s) that have made some people think that you will get HIV/AIDS no matter what, if you are LGBT. It is not true. Non-LGBT people can also become infected with HIV/AIDS, and regardless of someone’s sexuality, the only way to become infected with HIV is through taking part in an activity which would expose you to the virus.


HIV cannot be transmitted with saliva. This means that you cannot get HIV by only kissing someone. The only exception is if there are significant wounds or excessive bleeding in the mouth of the HIV- positive individual.

Receiving Oral Sex: NO MEANINGFUL RISK

If someone is receiving oral sex, then they are just coming into contact with the other person’s mouth, and we know that saliva does not transmit HIV. We have never seen any cases of anyone getting HIV by receiving oral sex.

Performing Oral Sex - Vagina: NO MEANINGFUL RISK

It is considered a theoretical risk to transmit HIV through oral contact with a vagina, which means that medically, it is possible to transmit HIV this way. However, in the real world, we don’t really see it happening.                                                       
If you want to reduce whatever risk might be there, you can use a latex barrier between the vagina and the other person’s mouth so that the fluids don’t get inside. Barriers that you can use would be a dental dam or you can cut open a latex condom or latex glove.

Performing Oral Sex – Penis – Only getting pre-cum in the mouth:: LOW RISK

If you are performing oral sex on a person with a penis, it is important not to get that person’s semen into your mouth. One way is to talk with the person beforehand and let them know that you don’t want them to cum into your mouth.  

If you can trust them on that, then the only possible risk is maybe from getting pre-cum in your mouth, and the likelihood of getting HIV just from pre-cum is very low. We are not aware of it ever happening

If you want to be even safer than that, you can have someone wear a condom when you’re performing oral sex on them.

Performing Oral Sex – Penis: Getting semen (cum) in the mouth: MEDIUM RISK

If you are getting actual semen, or cum, into your mouth, whether you spit it out or swallow it, it is considered a medium risk, and while it is not easy, we have seen people contract HIV by doing this.


Anal sex is considered to be one of the riskiest ways of transmitting HIV, and the risk is high for both partners, although the risk is greater for the person being penetrated. It is really important to use a condom every single time. Not everyone has anal sex, so you will need to decide if it's something that you want to do. If it is, then using a condom is really important, And you want to use a new condom every time .There are three things to remember about condoms: 
1. Use a new package of condoms, so check the expiration date on the wrapper (because condoms can expire or be exposed to wear and tear over time which can make them ineffective at preventing HIV)
2. Make sure the condoms are made of latex (because it is considered the safest material. If someone is allergic to latex, they can talk to an HIV clinic or their doctor about alternatives)
3. Use only water-based lubricant (because other types of lubricants can weaken and break latex condoms and make them ineffective at preventing HIV)
If you do these things, then you will substantially reduce the risk of transmitting HIV, but it won't eliminate the risk completely. But it will make it much safer than using no protection at all. In addition to condoms, there is now an option called PrEP, which is a prescription drug that must be taken on a specific schedule that when taken properly is highly effective against getting infected with HIV. But it does not protect people from other STI's (sexually transmitted infections), so it should be used along with condoms.

Sex Toys & HIV Risk 

There is risk if you share them and don’t clean them between partners.  This could happen because sex toys can sometimes cause cuts or tears inside one’s body, and if you are sharing toys and don’t properly clean them between partners, it can cause blood, semen, pre-cum or vaginal fluids to travel from one person’s body to the other, via the sex toy.


To be as safe as possible when using a sex toy, don’t share your toys!  If you must, use clean, disinfected toys only, and do not immediately share the toy between partners. If you do share, be sure to clean the toy thoroughly between each partner's use. You may also use a new, latex condom over a sex toy to reduce your risk of HIV.