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HIV from fish spa
May 26, 2012

Hello dear Shannon Southall, sorry to take your time. I hope you have time to answer this and that my question ist not stupid... I am very afraid of having contracted HIV from using a fish spa in Indonesia. When I was backpacking I wanted to try it because it is very popular there. I did not think of HIV for a second. Back home I wanted to show my boyfriend in google what exactely a fish spa is and then discovered real horror-stories that one could chatch HIV this way! This is just an example of such a story http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2050342/Fish-pedicures-foot-spas-spread-HIV-hepatitis-C.html

I was very shocked because I thought HIV dies within a minute when it is exposed to the air...If a person before had some bleedings using the same water (I am sure they don't change it every time there). Is it the same with water (without chlour)? Or does it survive longer and stay infectious? And wouldn't the water have a diluting effect? The water looked clean, but I am not sure if one would see small amounts of blood in a 100l bowl. Because I was backpacking I had some wounds one my feet, but they were not bleeding, just burning a little. Could this be a preferred entry into my body? Additionally I got sick (fever, sore throat) 2 weeks after this event and I am scared it could be HIV related!

I am scared to death....my rational mind told me that I could try this there because the water looked clean. And then I found these stories. I just found out that I am prgenant and I would be glad to get a risk assesment. Do I need testing?

Thank you a 1000 times!

Response from Ms. Southall

Hi Well you just helped me learn something new. I not heard of fish spas and so had to do some researching.

What I found was the fear is of not cleaning the water properly between clients, that this could lead to infections. Yes HIV once it is in water and dilution would not live long, but theoretically can HIV be spread this way, yes......Probable NO!

Having a viral infection which sounds like you have could be from many things, including the flu. I would recommend following up with your health care provider, let them know where you have traveled and what you have experienced and let them make the decision on what test to run, I would ask them for an HIV and Hepatitis test to ensure that you have received a thorough exam.

Be well and stay safe, Shannon



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