No, you cannot catch HIV from kissing. 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 cannot be passed to other people through kissing because a combination of antibodies and enzymes found naturally in saliva prevent HIV 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.
But 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 medicine to a mother and her newborn baby
- giving birth by caesarean section (where the baby is delivered through a cut made in the abdomen and womb)
- not breastfeeding
You cannot catch HIV from:
- giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (the "kiss of life")
- being sneezed on by someone with HIV
- sharing baths, towels or cutlery with someone with HIV
- swimming in a pool that's been used by someone with HIV
- sitting on a toilet seat that someone with HIV has sat on
Page last reviewed: 23 September 2021
Next review due: 23 September 2024