Kisses with risk
Although the campaigns to prevent some sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, emphasize that the virus that causes them is not transmitted through saliva, a study published in the journal ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ has revealed the possibility of that herpes virus 8, which can cause a type of cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, is transmitted through kisses in the mouth between men.
“When we think of sexually transmitted diseases, we associate them with infections that are transmitted through genital contact. Nevertheless,It is very difficult to locate HHV-8 in genital fluids , “says Dr. John Pauk, of the University of Washington (United States), responsible for the study. “We have found the virus in the mouth more often and in greater quantities than in the genital secretions.”
In the 1980s, an epidemic of Kaposi’s sarcoma among homosexual men announced the arrival of an AIDS epidemic. In Seattle (United States), those responsible for the research found the virus in 40 percent of homosexuals infected with HIV (virus that causes AIDS) and in 20 percent of homosexuals without HIV. After analyzing 112 homosexuals, the team led by Dr. Pauk identified two risk factors for HHV-8 infection:episode of sex with a person with Kaposi’s sarcoma or having kissed (with saliva exchange) a person affected by HIV .
“Currently, the number of people carrying the HHV-8 virus who develop cancer is very small, ” explains Dr. Pauk. “But although safe sex messages focus on the exchange of genital secretions, we have to remember that kissing can also transmit some viruses . Homosexual people with HIV should not forget the risks associated with the exchange of saliva. ”