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Alarming barbershop incident!
Jan 15, 2008

Before posting this question I did a quick search but could not find scenarios like the one I just experienced. While getting my moustache trimmed I informed the barber that the clippers were nicking me, he then applied the clippers to his forearm (to check whether they were too sharp I suppose) and then he reapplied the clippers to my face. Unfortunately this all happened too fast for me to register. I think about 2 seconds passed between its leaving his arm and touching my face. But when it did touch my face again I felt the same abbrasiveness as before. When it finally did click, about 30 seconds later I applied methylated spirits to the area and did feel a stinging sensation. When I asked the barber if he had felt any nicking or discomfort he said he hadn't although he may not have been entirely truthful. I did look at his arm though and there was no visible bleeding or a marking. Likewise my face did not bleed and as of two hours after the incident there are no visible marks either, but I still feel a stinging sensation when I apply methylated spirits. I read somewhere that the heat from the clippers should kill the virus, I estimated that the clippers had been on for roughly 20 minutes and so I left them on for the same period of time at home. While the clippers were quite hot they were not hot enough to cause discomfort when I put them against my cheek. That being said would +/- 2 second exposure to that kind of heat have been sufficient to kill the virus? Taking the above into account I was wondering about the chances of HIV infection. Almost three hours have passed, should I be rushing myself to get post exposure medication? And are there any negative side effects if the medication is taken and the virus isn't actually there? I know I have asked a lot of questions but I am on the verge of a panic. Please help!

Response from Dr. McGovern

I would not be concerned about this exposure. The possibility that the clippers were contaminated by hepatitis C or B after touching the barber's arm are basically zero.

1a genotype
HBsAg Reactive (First Step)

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