Can Kissing Pass HIV?

Dear Christine,

I read that experts are not completely certain about HIV transmission through deep, prolonged kissing. This worries me since I gave a quick kiss on the lips to an acquaintance that has HIV. The kiss was in no way romantic or prolonged and I feel very guilty for feeling this way but I cannot help the fear I feel.

What do you think?

Helen C

Dear Helen,

I think you are a victim of two decades of fear-based AIDS advertising campaigns that lack basic facts and urge us all to abandon logic and reason. Considering the constant, often contradictory messages about HIV, your concern about the kiss is understandable.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no claimed cases of HIV acquired through kissing. To give you a clearer idea about official risks, in the entire time known as the AIDS epidemic, experts at the US Centers for Disease Control tell us there are just 25 cases of AIDS among healthcare workers who claim their only explanation is work-related exposure to HIV. These cases are claimed, not proven or rigorously investigated, and none of the 25 were surgeons, emergency medical technicians or dentists—healthcare professionals who regularly endure exposure to other people’s bodily fluids.

If casual contact or non-intravenous exposure to blood and bodily fluids were a serious risk for so-called HIV transmission, we would see great numbers of those people most at risk—healthcare professionals—testing HIV positive as a result of such exposure.

Since most kissing does not involve exchanges of blood, especially under the conditions and in the quantities generally believed necessary for “HIV transmission” and since AIDS experts also tell us saliva contains enzymes that “disable or destroy HIV,” I don’t think your concerns are well founded.

Your guilt might pass if you forgive yourself for the very natural feelings of confusion and fear that AIDS campaigns may evoke and give your friend a call to say hello.

Take care,


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