Is HIV transmitted by kissing?

Is HIV transmitted by kissing?

Last Reviewed : 12/25/2020
Is HIV transmitted by kissing?

This is unarguably one of frequently asked questions about the highly dreaded virus. A good number of millennial wish to have a satisfactory answer to this question as most of the existing answers are not convincing enough. So, do you wish to know if HIV is transmitted though kissing? If yes, you will know the answer shortly. However, just before you know the answer to this mind-boggling question, we will start from the definition.

Now, what’s HIV? Well, HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is named HIV because it affects the immune system so that the human body becomes susceptible to infections. What’s more, the virus is transmitted by direct physical (sexual) contact in homosexuals, heterosexuals, and ones who indulge in oral sex.

How is HIV transmitted?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for transmitting the infection, the blood or bodily fluid of the infected person (HIV positive) should mix with either blood or body fluid of non-infected (HIV negative) person.

The virus is present in the following body fluids:

  1. Blood
  2. Semen
  3. Pre seminal fluid
  4. Rectal fluids
  5. Vaginal fluids 
  6. Breast milk

The virus is absent in the following body fluids:

  1. Saliva
  2. Tears
  3. Sweat

As such HIV does not spread by hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilet or dishes, social or closed mouth kissing. There is something called open mouth kissing, where the oral mucosa of both the persons involving in kissing come in contact with each other. If one of the partners is HIV positive and the oral mucosa of both partners have any sores or cuts and bleeding gums (where there are potential chances of mixing of blood), then definitely yes. Put simply, deep mouth kissing can also transmit HIV. This was also emphasized by the author of research paper published in British Medical Journal in 1987[2].

In the same year 1987, another research paper was published in the British Medical Journal, which says HIV is not transmitted by kissing.


Over the years, there have been lots of HIV enlightenment campaigns. Indeed, nonprofits, government agencies and high net worth individuals have leveraged the traditional media channels and digital platforms to launch massive HIV enlightenment campaigns. Today, the HIV/AID messages are everywhere. In this article, we highlighted two British journals that seem to express two contradictory views on the subject. But then, one thing always stands out in most HIV campaigns – abstinence.

In other words, you are safer when you believe that you can contract the virus through kissing. While you can actually contract HIV through open-mouth kissing, it goes without a caveat. Well, the condition is that one of the partners must be HIV positive and the oral mucosa of both partners have sores or cuts and bleeding gums (where there are potential chances of mixing of blood). Given the passion associated with such kisses, you may not be able to tell who has such sores/cuts or not. Therefore, the best bet is to abstain from it (if possible).


  2. Seale J. HIV Transmitted by Kissing. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1987; 294(6573):705–706. doi:10.1136/bmj.294.6573. 
  3. Smith JW. HIV Transmitted by Sexual Intercourse but not by Kissing. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1987; 294(6569):446–447.        doi:10.1136/bmj.294.6569.446-a

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