Isn't everything sexual risky?

It's easier to get HIV from some sex acts than others. Different activities put us at different levels of risk for getting HIV from a positive partner. Remember that your partner might have HIV without realizing it, even if they've had a recent HIV test. 


  1. Oral sex is a great way to minimize your exposure to HIV, and is a safer alternative to anal or vaginal sex.
  2. There’s less risk to getting HIV through vaginal sex than anal sex.
  3. Oral, anal and vaginal sex with a condom can reduce exposure to HIV.
  4. For men who have sex with men, topping without a condom is generally safer than bottoming without a condom. For bottoms, minimize exposure to HIV by having your top wear a condom or ejaculate on you instead of inside you.
  5. Sex with a person who is HIV-positive and adherent to their HIV medications is less likely to transmit HIV than sex with a person who is HIV-positive person who is not taking HIV medications. People living with HIV who maintain an “undetectable” viral load are not likely to transmit HIV to anyone else.
  6. Taking PrEP as prescribed significantly reduces your chances of becoming infected with HIV. So far, there has only been one documented case of HIV infection in someone who was taking PrEP as prescribed (read more about what happened, and what it means, on BETA).

Can an HIV-negative person have sex with an HIV-positive person and stay negative? Yes. Consider these possibilities:

  • HIV transmission likelihood: None
    Kissing, mutual masturbation, frottage, massage, water sports, bondage, dirty talk and role play, spanking, wrestling, handjobs
  • HIV transmission likelihood: Low/Very Low
    Blow jobs (receiving less risky than giving), rimming, sex with a condom, fisting with or without gloves, flogging, whipping, sex with a person with HIV who’s on antiretroviral therapy and has an undetectable viral load, sex when taking Truvada PrEP as prescribed
  • HIV transmission likelihood: Medium
    Topping without a condom, bottoming without a condom but having the top pull out before cumming, blood play such as cutting or piercing
  • HIV transmission likelihood: High
    Bottoming without a condom and taking the load, sharing needles or works during intravenous drug use

Of course, these ranges apply only to HIV, not for other STIs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or hepatitis.

While there are several behaviors that are no risk or low risk for HIV transmission, remember: the most common method of HIV transmission for men who have sex with men is bottoming without a condom. Consider PrEP if you are worried about HIV transmission and/or have trouble using condoms consistently.  

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