Relative risk of various sexual practices

You can also reduce your risk of becoming infected by being aware of the relative risk of HIV transmission of various sexual practices and choosing to engage in practices with lower risk. Note that we consider the risk of HIV transmission only and that some practices, for instance unprotected analingus, carry their own unique risk of less severe STIs.

High-risk practices

  • Vaginal intercourse without a male or female condom.
  • Anal intercourse without a latex condom.

Low-risk practices

  • Fellatio (“blowjobs”) without a condom.
  • Cunnilingus (“eating out”) without a latex dam.
  • Analingus (“rimming”) without a latex dam.
  • Anal intercourse with a condom.

Extremely low-risk practices

These activities carry a small (based on case reports) or theoretical risk of HIV transmission between partners of unlike or unknown HIV status. You can consider the following practices as safe.

  • French (wet) kissing
  • Mutual masturbation
  • Vaginal sex with a male or female condom
  • Fellatio with a condom
  • Cunnilingus with a dental dam
  • Analingus with dental dam

No-risk practices

  • Self-masturbation
  • Touching, massaging, hugging, caressing
  • Social (dry) kissing
  • Any type of sexual intercourse between partners who are certain that they are uninfected
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