A 22-year-old woman may have possibly contracted HIV from sharing manicure instruments. Ten years ago she used her cousin’s set of manicure tools. Her cousin, who is now a manicurist, later tested positive for an advanced strain of HIV that further research determined to be very similar to the one the woman was just diagnosed with.
This strange case is described in a journal published online called AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses. According to the study, the woman was unaware she had contracted HIV until she volunteered to give blood and tested positive. Her blood work showed a high viral load which indicated that the infection had been long-standing. It is unsurprising that she would be ignorant of the presence of the disease. There is no way to know if you have the virus without being tested for it. There are symptoms, but they may present the same as those of a bad flu and the virus can often lie dormant for years.
HIV is short for human immunodeficiency virus. Unlike other viruses that your body contracts, HIV cannot be gotten rid of. However, it can potentially be controlled and maintained if it is caught early. There is a treatment called antiretroviral therapy (ART) which has been used successfully to extend the life expectancy of people where are infected and reduce the risk of them infecting others. In its advanced stages, HIV destroys an individual’s T cells, damaging the immune system and making it impossible for the body to fight infections. If it advances beyond treatment, the individual contracts acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
The woman claimed to not have been exposed to any of the classic routes through which HIV is normally transmitted including intercourse, a blood transfusion, shared needles or tattoos and piercings. Her mother also did not test positive for infection. This led doctors to search for the way she could have contracted the virus. After the woman mentioned the manicure, further research was conducted to determine if that could have been the cause.
The possibility of this woman contracting HIV from sharing instruments for a manicure has caused some concern. In the United States there are over 48,000 nail salons and they do not come under the jurisdiction of the health department. They are monitored by the department of cosmetology and are often only required to do basic disinfection and not sterilization. According to podiatrist and author Dr. Robert Spalding, 75 percent of nail salons in the United States do follow the disinfection guidelines set by their state. According to researchers, this is not cause for alarm.
The report itself was written not just to research the possibility of HIV being contracted from a manicure, but to draw attention to the fact that HIV and other serious diseases can be transmitted by exchange of bodily fluid. While the transmission through a manicure is highly unlikely, caution should be exercised in every situation where there is the possibility of blood to blood contact.
According to Fox, the study authors stated that HIV is not something that is transmitted through casual contact like eating from the same utensils or sharing a glass of water. They said that this transmission by sharing manicure instruments is “very rare” and shouldn’t frighten people.
By Clara Goode
Photo Source: Alessandra – Flickr License