HC Deb 15 January 2003 vol 397 cc678-9W
Mr. Portillo

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice his Department(a) issues and (b) endorses on the likelihood of HIV being transmitted through oral sex; and if he will estimate the proportion of HIV cases contracted in the last 12 months that can be attributed to oral sex. [90930]

Ms Blears

A statement of risk on 'Oral sex and transmission of HIV', together with a question and answer briefing, was issued by the Department of Health in June 2001. This was distributed widely to health professionals and the voluntary sector and is available from the Department's website http://www.doh.gov.uk/eaga/hivoralsex.pdf).

For the general population, advice on the transmission of HIV via oral sex is available through a number of sources funded by the Department. These include sexual health leaflets, the Sexual Health and National AIDS Helpline and the website which supports the Department's new safer sex campaign. In addition, Terrence Higgins Trust are funded by the Department to produce health promotion materials for gay men. These include leaflets (specifically 'The Manual' and 'Man[sex]Man') with messages around oral sex. The advice is consistent with the statement of risk issued in 2001.

Oral sex is common in both homosexual and heterosexual relationships, but its frequency among men who have sex with men has highlighted its potential contribution to HIV transmission. Recent information collected by the Public Health Laboratory Service found that, in 2 per cent. of new HIV cases in men reported as infected through sex between men, they believed themselves to have been infected through oral sex. On following up these reports, more probable routes of infection than oral sex were found in some men. Hence the true proportion of new HIV cases that can be attributed to oral sex will be less than 2 per cent.

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