Thursday, March 5, 2009

Use of saliva as a lubricant in anal sexual practices among homosexual men

Butler LM, Osmond DH, Jones AG, Martin JN.


From the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA.


Compared with other sexually active adults, men who have sex with men (MSM) are more frequently infected with several pathogens including cytomegalovirus, hepatitis B virus, and Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. Because one common element between these organisms is their presence in saliva, we evaluated saliva exposure among MSM in a heretofore relatively unrecognized route-via use of saliva as a lubricant in anal sex.


MSM in a San Francisco population-based cohort were interviewed regarding use of saliva by the insertive partner as a lubricant in various anal sexual practices.


Among 283 MSM, 87% used saliva as a lubricant in insertive or receptive penile-anal intercourse or fingering/fisting at some point during their lifetime; 31%-47% did so, depending upon the act, in the prior 6 months. Saliva use as a lubricant was more common among younger men and among HIV-infected men when with HIV-infected partners. Even among MSM following safe sex guidelines by avoiding unprotected penile-anal intercourse, 26% had anal exposure to saliva via use as a lubricant.


Among MSM, use of saliva as a lubricant is a common, but not ubiquitous, practice in anal sex. The findings provide the rationale for formal investigation of whether saliva use in this way contributes to transmission of saliva-borne pathogens in MSM.

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