Can you catch HIV from kissing?

No. Evidence shows that the HIV virus is spread through the exchange of bodily fluids such as blood, semen and vaginal fluids, but not saliva. 

Although HIV can be detected in saliva, it can't be passed to other people through kissing because a combination of antibodies and enzymes found naturally in saliva prevent HIV from infecting new cells.

How HIV is spread

The most common way that HIV is spread is through sexual intercourse, including oral and anal sex.

The virus can also be spread through sharing needles, and it can be passed from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn baby. However, steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of HIV being passed on to a baby, making transmission in this way rare in the UK.

For example, the risk of transmission can be reduced by:

  • giving antiretroviral medication to a mother and her newborn baby
  • giving birth by Caesarean section (where the baby is delivered through an incision that's made in the abdomen and womb)
  • not breastfeeding

You can't catch HIV from:

  • kissing
  • being sneezed on by someone with HIV
  • sharing baths, towels or cutlery with someone with HIV
  • swimming in a pool that has been used by someone with HIV
  • sitting on a toilet seat that someone with HIV has previously sat on

Further information:

HIV

An expert explains how HIV is passed on, who is at risk of getting it, and how it affects the immune system.

Media last reviewed: 27/04/2015

Next review due: 27/04/2017

Page last reviewed: 27/06/2015

Next review due: 26/06/2017