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transmission through shaving?

Sep 24, 1997

Hi there. I was just wondering if it was possible to become infected by shaving with a razor used by an HIV-positive person. I've read an answer of yours stating that HIV does not live outside the body, and in order to become infected transfer of blood must occur within minutes of leaving the body, therefore eliminating the prospect of this happening. However in another statement you mention that it could be a possibility. What are your thoughts? Thanks in advance for your time.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

When we are talking about the transmission of HIV through sharing razors (and sharing toothbrushes for that matter), normally there is a low risk for HIV. This is because the HIV virus dies very quickly (usually within minutes) once it is outside the body. In order for HIV to be transmitted through razors (or toothbrushes), the following would have to occur:

The person with HIV would have to cut themselves when shaving (or bleed when brushing their teeth), AND

The person with HIV would not rinse off the razor (or the toothbrush) after use, AND

Another person would use that same razor (or toothbrush) within minutes, AND

The second person would also cut themselves when shaving (or put the toothbrush with blood on it, into their mouth).

Realistically, it would be quite unlikely for all 4 conditions to be met. This is especially true since people usually rinse off a razor (or a toothbrush) immediately after use. Rinsing the razor (or toothbrush) would wash away any blood, and therefore any HIV in the blood.

However, because the risk of HIV transmission can still technically occur this way (although usually this would be unlikely), and because of the much greater risks for other bloodborne diseases (such as Hepatitis B), out of good hygienic practices, it's always a good idea not to share razors or toothbrushes with anybody else. This is the same advice I would give anyone, regardless of HIV status. Diseases like Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are much more infectious than HIV, and pose a greater risk for infection (when sharing razors or toothbrushes). So rather than worrying about transmission risks for HIV (or diseases like Hepatitis B), a much easier and simpler solution is simply not to share razors or toothbrushes with anyone.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).


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