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Can you please confirm my research? I am trying to educate my community about HIV.
Dec 21, 2009

Hello Doctor Frascino,

I am such an admirer of yours that I have decided to follow in your footsteps. I love in a very conservative Muslim country where HIV is a forbidden word. I am trying to educate my community. They are aware of the risks from sex and needles but they keep asking me about non-sexual modes of transmission. I have been able to convince them that mosquitoes, hugging, kissing, shaking hands, etc are not a risk but the question that keeps popping up over and over again is HIV risk from straight razors at barbershops. I have actually received mixed responses from our local MDs.

I don't get it. Aside from the fact that HIV can't survive, how can a Barber NOT clean the razor? I have read on a Dr. HHH post that a mere swipe from a dry cloth would reduce the amount to something that won't be infectious. HIV transmission requires fresh, wet blood. Shaves are done with shaving cream. What kind of a filthy barber would shave his client with the shaving cream still on his razor from the previous client? He obviously has to remove the shaving cream by washing and drying and that would remove the blood. Also, anyone would notice pre-existing shaving creeam on the razor blade that is used to shave them.

So, based on everything that I have read, the only way this would be a risk is if the barber shaves a client without cream, gets visible blood on the blade, the new client doesn't notice it, and receives a DEEP CUT and not just microtrauma. All of this must also occur very, very rapidly. I don't see how this would work.

Is my analysis correct Dr. Frascino?

Thank you and may God always bless you,

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Your analysis is correct. The theoretical risk of contracting HIV from a straight razor in a barbershop is so extremely remote it becomes essentially nonexistent (unless the barber happens to be Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street). Remind your audience that HIV transmission has been intensely studied for over a quarter of a century. Unless they plan on having unsafe sex with an HIV-positive barber during their shave, they shouldn't fear contracting HIV at the barbershop!

Thanks for your efforts to promote HIV awareness and prevention. Even if "very conservative Muslim countries" forbid the mention of HIV, I can assure you they cannot forbid the virus from prematurely snuffing out the lives of those who do not know how to protect themselves.

Be well. Stay well. I applaud your efforts and hope others reading this forum will follow your lead.

Dr. Bob



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