Can you get a sexually transmitted disease (STD) from kissing?

Deep kissing can be one of the most exciting parts of a relationship, but if you are with someone for the first time, you might consider being a little careful. The medical name for the virus you can pick up from the saliva of an infected person during a serious kiss, is called mononucleosis, also known as mono. The virus falls under the herpes umbrella, is not generally a serious disease, and the symptoms vary between being mild or severe. However, severe symptoms can impact on your daily life for several weeks if it is not treated.

Not all STD’s are transmittable through kissing

Only certain STD’s can be passed on through kissing and saliva. Two of the most common ones include:

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV1) and Cytomegalovirus (CMV).


  • Also called oral virus, can easily be passed on through kissing. It is estimated that about 60% of people under the age of 50, have the virus in their bodies. A notable symptom is the appearance of a small white or red blister on the mouth or genitals. Also commonly know as a cold sore, it may ooze or bleed during an outbreak. Touching or kissing a cold sore can transmit the virus.
  • HSV can also affect the genitals and readily spread through anal, genital or oral sex.

This virus, HSV, can never be cured, and does not ever leave your body. This actually applies to all the variations of the herpes which lie dormant. However, there will only be a breakout if your immune system is compromised.

  • A viral infection that can be passed on through contact with someone whose saliva contains the virus. It can also be transmitted by means of body fluids such as urine, blood, semen, as well anal, genital or oral sex.
Symptoms include:
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Body aches

Symptoms may also flare up if you have a poor immune system. If the symptoms get worse, and are impacting your daily life, medical intervention may be needed.

Some STD’s which are not passed on during kissing, but only through sexual activity

  • Chlamydia is a bacterial STD which is not passed on through saliva.
  • Gonorrhoea is also bacterial, not passed on via kissing.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) this infection can only spread when introduced into the vagina by sex, not by saliva in the mouth.
  • Hepatitis is a serious liver condition which can be spread through sexual contact or exposure to the blood of an infected person, but not through kissing.

If you feel that you need to talk about any of these issues with your partner, be as open and diplomatic as you can. Always bear in mind that both of you need to be confident in your relationship and in your health and well-being, and should do whatever it takes to stay that way.

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March 14, 2023

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