[Question #2829] Beauty salon risk

42 months ago
Hello. Thank you for such a great website. I have been to a clinic yesterday, where they gave me a couple of beauty shots which were bleeding. Afterwards they gave me an ice pack to bring the swelling down. It was covered in some disposable paper similar to the material that they put on bed between patients. The paper was brand new and everything seemed ok. 

I thought nothing of it at the time, but when I got home i got a bit worried. Was that paper enough protection since the ice pack was obviously reused between patients? Is there a risk of infection of blood viruses that way? Like hep C and HIV? I worry about HIV especially. 

Obviously, i had open cuts that were bleeding, In a situation where this ice pack was given to me 5 minutes after another patient and his/her blood got somehow on ice pack through that paper would the new piece of paper that was put for me be enough protection? I actually lifted the paper one time and could not see any blood on the ice pack which was reassuring, of course, but i just realised how little i understand about this disease. Please help me to understand.  I asked a physician and he told me that HIV lives 6 days outside of its host if it is not dry. This got me worried I think the most. Because on this site i read it dies when exposed to air. So does it mean it has to be dry to be non-infectious and a couple of minutes between patients would not make it so...?

I am confused and a bit worried. 

Thank you for reading and I hope you can clarify things for me. Thank you 



42 months ago
Dear Doctors

I just came back from the clinic. They said they sterilise packs between patients. This had put my mind at ease a little bit. However, I still wonder about that "hiv dies after being exposed to air" point. Does it mean that even if the procedure was not followed this would not be a route of transmission because HIV would be dead by the time it reaches another patient? Or would it still be able to inject because it only stops infecting when the blood is dry? thank you for you time and help
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
42 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

There has never been a known case of HIV acquired in the manner you are concerned about. For example, in a medical clinic, if an HIV infected person had blood drawn, if a few drops of blood contaminated a gause pad, and that pad were then used after drawing blood on a second person, that person would not be at risk for HIV. Without direct injection of contaminated blood, or re-used needles after injecting someone infected with HIV or viral hepatitis, there is no risk. In the 30+ years of the world wide HIV/AIDS epidemic, with millions of infected persons, there is not a single case that is known to have been acquired from any kind of beauty treatment:  none from manicures, pedicures, shaving, or "beauty shots". It is true that HIV dies rapidly when infected blood or other secretions die -- but it probably does not die immediately just by exposure to air. But this doesn't matter:  if is still no risk, the biological reasons for that really don't matter, right?

Have only safe sex and do not share drug injection equipment, and you will not be at risk of HIV. No worries at all!

I hope this information helps ease your fears. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD


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42 months ago
Thank you so much for your answer. I think I understand it a bit better now. It seems that the quantity of blood needed is fairly high for the infection to occur. But may still trouble you, please, and ask again so no unnecessary anxiety is there in a future: although the virus does not die immediately, it would be dead, in your learned opinion, for instance, in 10-20 minutes after it is exposed to air, correct? It is important for me to know since I have kids and they often get some cuts when playing around. I do not want to worry about them being infected. Thanks a lot again.  
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
42 months ago
The virus can assumed to be dead as soon as the blood or other contaminated body fluid has dried. If still wet at 15-20 minutes, the virus would still be alive. But still no risk so don't worry about it.

People who live in the same households of persons with HIV never catch HIV, even after many years of sharing kitchens, toilets, towels, eating utensils, etc. And that's the same for kids with cuts on their hands who regularly hug and kiss their loved one with HIV. There is absolutely no reason for you to worry about your kids being infected until the day they become sexually active -- at which time you need to advise them to make wise choices about their partners and to have only safe sex. Before then, no worries!

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42 months ago
Thank you very much