A 22-year-old Brazilian woman was diagnosed with HIV, and according to the doctors, she might have contracted the virus after a manicure session. The equipment used for manicuring was not sterilized, and it was shared with her cousin, who is HIV positive.
Thorough health examination
The Brazilian woman tested positive with HIV last year after she donated blood for the first time. She had no history of sexual intercourse, and a gynecologist confirmed it. She also had no history of transmission risk factors, which prompted doctors to check her entire history to identify any other event and route that may have caused the infection.
Her mother tested negative for HIV infection as they tried to see if it was hereditary. She never received a blood transfusion nor undergone any surgery of any kind. She also does not have any tattoos or piercings, and AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses reported all of these.
How the HIV virus was transmitted
After the woman was diagnosed, it was revealed that she had a high viral load and low white blood cell count. This means that she was already in the advanced stage of the disease. The doctors discussed past events with her, and they discovered that she shared a cuticle scissor during a manicure session with an HIV positive cousin 10 years ago. Even though her relative, who was a manicurist, knew that she was HIV positive as she was diagnosed 17 years ago, she did not share the information with her cousin.
Since the doctors had no other leads, they decided to check on the possibility that she got the virus from her cousin. The doctors sequenced the viral genomes of both patients. Eventually, they found out that the virus was similar, and it indicated that it had the same origin. When they checked the viral sequence, they also found that the common ancestor date matches the same year that they shared the manicure equipment.
Even though it is impossible to be certain, there is no other possible route of transmission. There are strong similarities between the viruses of the two patients, and it does indicate that they were caused by sharing manicure equipment that was not sterilized.
What happened to the Brazilian woman is not common, and it is also possible that she had lots of virus in her blood even before she did the manicure session with her cousin.
When patients take a lot of antiviral drugs, the viral load drops down to levels that are not detectable. This means that the risk of transmission is very low.
The activities that are listed in the CDC record as a way to transmit HIV are acupuncture, piercing, tattooing, but manicure equipment is unheard of until this case happened. Even though this is a very rare case, other viruses like Hepatitis C can also be transmitted from beauty equipment that is not cleaned properly.
This case serves as a reminder that everyone needs to get tested for HIV, whether they are sexually active or not. In America, 170,000 people have HIV but are not aware that they are infected. In the United Kingdom, 26,000 people are not aware that they have HIV.