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Dear Team,

I had a brief kissing incident in December where my lower lip was slightly bitten by the girl. I wrote to this helpline and my exposure was deemed no risk. I also consulted a doctor who told me that there was no risk as I was only exposed to saliva and not blood. I am very sure there was no blood in her mouth (I pray there wasn't). I am now worried as the girl was having symptoms consistent with ARS at the time of the kiss.

1. Is saliva an infectious body fluid if a person is undergoing ARS? Because I have read that the viral load at this point is at its peak but does that apply to blood and not to saliva?

2. What about if the saliva of an infected person gets into a small cut is that a risk?

Thank you for your help


Hi there,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking whether you can acquire HIV from saliva when a person is having ARS (Acute Retroviral Syndrome) symptoms, and if viral load has an association with blood, and or saliva.

Great question!

You are correct in the assumptions you have made from your research on saliva. Saliva in HIV positive individuals, and those undergoing ARS, or Seroconversion, still contains only the "noninfectious components" of HIV (1). One study on HIV transmission and saliva has indicated that "In saliva, inhibition of HIV may be partly due to several inhibitors of viruses that are present in the saliva" (1). With this knowledge, it appears as though there are certain mechanisms that the body produces which render HIV inactive in saliva, essentially making HIV transmission through saliva challenging.

Further, when an individual has a high viral load, it most always certainly means that there is a high viral load in their blood.

As far as your kissing encounter goes, we assure you that kissing (with no blood present) is considered a No Risk act here at AIDS Vancouver Online/Helpline (transmission of HIV is not possible in the given scenario). Recommendation: No need for HIV test with the scenario provided, refer to a physician for other health related questions.

All the best, AIDS Vancouver Online/Helpline, Cody