AIDS expert says it’s virtually impossible to get HIV from shared manicure, pedicure equipment

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Li shows how an HIV blood test is done with a volunteer

IT’S “impossible” to get infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) through shared manicure or pedicure equipment, according to an officer of the Hong Kong AIDS Foundation.

Johnny Li Choi Hing, the foundation’s Senior Programme Manager, assured Filipino domestic workers that the chances of getting HIV from using nail cutters and other manicure or pedicure equipment were virtually nil.

“No, that’s impossible. That’s impossible,” Mr. Li said in an interview.

“The HIV virus dies easily outside the body. They can’t survive outside our human body,” Mr. Li said.

“(For infection to happen), an open wound would have to be bleeding and touch the same area as that of another bleeding, open wound. That would be quite difficult,” he added.

A medical journal reported in 2014 that a 22-year-old Brazilian woman may have acquired HIV from her cousin through shared manicure equipment.

Li said HIV was usually transmitted through sexual contact, blood contact and sharing of contaminated syringes, and mother-to child transmission.

He said that 19 Filipinos had tested positive for HIV in Hong Kong since 2013 while 56 Indonesians tested positive during the same period.

According to the latest Department of Health (DH) data, 25 non-Chinese individuals in HK tested positive for HIV during the first quarter of 2018. However, the DH did not mention the nationality of these individuals.

It added that, as of March 2018, a total of 2,615 non-Chinese individuals in HK had tested positive for HIV while another 434 had AIDS.

Among Chinese, those who tested positive for HIV totalled 6,355 while those that developed AIDS numbered 1,451, the DH said.

The Hong Kong AIDS Foundation said that the HIV virus cannot reproduce outside the human body.

“Therefore, casual contacts like shaking hands, kissing, sharing toilets and drinking fountains, eating together, going to school together or working together cannot transmit HIV,” the foundation said.

It noted that HIV infection caused by saliva, tears, sweat, urine or feces had not been reported.

“While these body fluids of the infected can have the virus, the amount is not enough to cause infection. To cause infection, it will require at least two litres of these fluids with the virus entering the body at one time,” the foundation said.

It also said that mosquito bites cannot pass on HIV as the virus cannot live inside the body of a mosquito.

“Mosquitoes will digest the blood they suck and will not spit it out. Even if the mouth part of a mosquito has some infected blood, the quantity is too small to cause infection,” the foundation added.

For domestic workers who want to have themselves tested, the Hong Kong AIDS Foundation offers free and anonymous testing on Sundays. They can be reached at 2513-0513 or email at