Possibility of Infections at barber shop?
Sep 22, 2002
I just came back from my local barber shop. During the haircut, the hairdresser accidentally nicked the lobe of my ear with an extremely sharp razor blade. The kind of "Gillette" razor blade which men use to shave their beards and moustaches. She was using that razor to shave my sideburns. My earlobe started bleeding rather profusely but stopped after some first aid. My question is, was I at a risk of contacting HIV/Hepatitis or similar viruses? What should I do? If I want to go for tests, how long should I wait? I asked the hairdresser about the blade and she said that it was a new blade, but I cannot be sure and do not really believe what she said. Do I have a reason to get worried or concerned?
Response from Mr. Kull
I understand that it's hard to resist worrying about HIV transmission in your case, but it is not unusual for someone to get nicks, cuts, or abrasions while getting a haircut. There is still no evidence of HIV transmission occurring in hair salons, barber shops, etc. Hairdressers/barbers are also required to sanitize equipment as a precaution against the transmission of bloodborne pathogens, and in your case you might just have to take your barber's word about the clean blade. Even if she had reused the blade, the odds of transmission are incredibly small.
It's important to remember that HIV is only known to be transmitted through the following three ways:
1) Sexual contact: anal, vaginal, and oral sex
2) Blood-to-blood contact: sharing injection needles, occupational exposures, blood transfusions (which is rare in the U.S.)
3) Mother-to-infant: either through delivery or during breast feeding
You could probably imagine many different ways that HIV COULD be transmitted, but try to rely on the evidence of how HIV is ACTUALLY transmitted.
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