How are women getting HIV after getting a manicure done? Here’s all that you must know!

A woman’s (including myself) worst fear is spending tonnes on getting the nails done and in the end, not having nails like the ones on Pinterest. However, this might not be the worst outcome! It can get worse – probably a lifetime regret – if you are not educated about it.

A recent case, that came to limelight after it was discussed in health journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, ”a woman in Brazil has contracted HIV under, what they call, as ‘mysterious circumstances’.”

She was not sexually active, she did not have a surgery or blood transfusion, and she never got a piercing or tattoo done.

Digging deeper, it was found out that there is only one possibility for her to be caught up in potentially fatal health condition: her manicure.

She had shared manicure equipment with one of her cousins, who was a manicurist by profession and was later diagnosed with HIV. The detailed analysis further revealed that both of the women infected with highly similar strains of the virus, initiating a new discussion in the medical sphere: how to know what is happening inside nail salons?

While it is highly likely that we would do something similar to it, all of us have visited nail salons, completely unaware if the equipment is safe to use or not. The issue is extremely relevant and concerning in Pakistan’s context particularly since there is no regulatory authority or check-and-balance to assure that standard health requirements are met in salons.


Just because there is no authority to regulate the quality, doesn’t mean you yourself shouldn’t be extra vigilant when it comes to it. So here are a few things you MUST KNOW of if you are getting a manicure done from a salon or are possibly sharing the equipment:

  • You need to make sure that they are changing the disinfecting agent (the blue liquid in the jar) regularly. Make sure the salon staff is soaking the instrument for 10 minutes in front of you or is unpacking it right in front of you.
  • If they are not hand-cleaning it before they soak in the disinfectant, it can also be potentially harmful.
  • One thing you MUST be educated about is that nail techs are NOT supposed to perform “aggressive” treatments. They are not trained for it. They cannot perform treatments like digging out ingrown nails. Don’t let them do it. Remember that.
  • If you are filing your nails, or they use a nail filer on you, and it starts to instantly burn, it is a red signal. It is harmful, even if it does not bleed.
  • ”Any sharp instrument could theoretically carry this risk”, (Nails Magazine).
  • If they’re filing a cuticle and get even a drop of blood on the cuticle during the file, and then they use it on another person, it is likely to carry the risk of such diseases. (Death by Pedicure: The Dirty Secrets of Nail Salons)
  • The Salon staff should always be wearing gloves when doing manicure or pedicure. Not just this, make sure they also instantly toss them immediately after they use it.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),  Nails Magazine, Death by Pedicure: The Dirty Secrets of Nail Salons, Yahoo Health.

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