Can you get any diseases from kissing?

Originally Published: June 2, 2000
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Dear Alice,

My super-paranoid parents went krazy when they caught me kissing my boyfriend. They say that you can get diseases (!) from kissing alone, even AIDS. And here I was thinking I was being safe by not having sex! Is there any real danger in kissing someone with no sores or cuts or anything like that in or around their mouth? Please help!

- Petrified Pucker

Dear Petrified Pucker,

No need to be petrified the next time you pucker up with your boyfriend. As long as you are both healthy, plain ol' kissing (including the deep or French variety) is highly unlikely to transmit any disease, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and other STDs. Read the following Q&As in Alice's Sexual Health archive for more specific information about kissing and HIV:

So, when can you get diseases from kissing alone? Well, there's always the common cold and flu, and even mono, all of which can be passed on from an infected kisser to his or her kissee. The herpes virus that causes cold sores on the lips or inside of the mouth can be spread through kissing, too. Hepatitis B and some forms of bacterial meningitis could also be transmitted through kissing alone, but this is much less common than getting a cold or flu from swapping saliva or hand-to-hand contact with an infected person.

For further details, check out the following Q&As in Alice's archives:

One last thing: is it possible that the reason why your parents told you that you shouldn't be kissing is because of religious or cultural reasons, or is it based on the belief that kissing will lead to sexual activity? Think about why they responded the way they did, or ask them, "What are you really worried about?" You may also consider kissing your boyfriend where or when you have privacy.

Alice