BARBER SHOPS POSE HIV RISK. . . National Aids Council issues chilling warning


Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
PEOPLE who have their hair cut at salons are at high risk of contracting HIV through sharing barber clippers, the National Aids Council (Nac) has warned.
Clients also risk contracting the potentially fatal Hepatitis B and C.

Corroborating findings of a study published by the South African Medical Journal recently, a senior Nac official acknowledged that there is significant contamination of barber hair clippers with blood and blood-borne viruses.

The doctors concluded in the study that there is a need for public education on individual clipper ownership as is the case with a toothbrush.

Nac monitoring and evaluation director Mr Amon Mpofu said since cuts during a haircut or shave are inevitable, chances of infection are high.

“HIV is transmitted through fresh blood hence if anyone sustains any cut during the use of the clippers and there is blood, it can remain on the piece of equipment. If another person uses the same clipper and there is also breakage of the skin, he or she can get infected,” said Mr Mpofu.

“We encourage barbers to invest in sterilisers and numerous clippers so that they don’t use the same for all clients. They should use a single clipper on one person and sterilise it before it can be used on the next person.”

He encouraged members of the public to rather carry their own clippers to the salon rather than risk getting infections.

“It is almost like using one razor blade. Though HIV does not exist in dead blood, they cannot take that risk. When blood cells die the HIV virus dies but we encourage members of the public to be cautious and ensure they only use sterilised clippers or carry their own,” added Mr Mpofu.

It has been a long held public opinion that sterilisers at most barber shops in the country do not work.

“They put the clippers under ordinary light to make you think they are being sterilised. Those things should have UV light to kill the virus,” said Ms Eunice Mkhize from Bulawayo.

The journal article entitled, Blood and virus detection on barber clippers says most men still prefer the clean shave impabanga or zuda worn by the majority of black African men, which is also part of certain cultural rituals.

“This study confirms that there is significant contamination of barber hair clippers with blood and blood-borne viruses. Hepatitis B was detected with enough DNA copies to pose a risk of transmitting infection,” reads the study.

“Further studies to investigate barber clipper sterilisation practices and whether the clean-shave hairstyle is an independent risk factor for HIV, HBV and hepatitis C virus infections are warranted.”

Zimbabwe recorded 40 500 cases of new HIV infections in 2016 with the country’s southern region contributing 59 percent of them.

According to statistics released by the Ministry of Health and Child Care in the HIV and Aids Estimates Report for 2016, there were approximately 36 700 new HIV infections that occurred among adults and 3 900 among children in 2016.


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  • MakhosiXamu

    And these f*ckers are only telling us NOW?

  • benjamin

    we were told this way back in the 80s when we were at primary school being introduced by teachers about HIV and AIDS. I have always been surprised why barbers don’t make use of sterilisers even if they have them. Soon after barbing someone, the clipper must be immediately cleaned with a sterilizing agent eg methylated spirit, oiled and put in the UV sterilizer but I don’t see this happening even at uptown hair saloons that have the equipment. A hair saloon or barber must have multiple clippers so that after use, a clipper has sufficient time in the UV sterilizer.

    There is always a risk in sharing anything that has the potential of getting someone’s fresh blood into your body, eg sharp tools at work,needles etc.

  • Dudu Mdlaziba

    Ama rasta singcono kakhulu!

    • Wellington


  • Never

    I think there are thousands of people on any given day who undergo shaving in the country. This is like putting almost half of male population at the risk of being infected by HIV and AIDS through hair clippers. And as has already been noted through research, the majority of barbars do not sterilise their clippers. With such high risk government must put legislation on the operation of barbershops like it was done on medical practice where an injection is used once and thrown away. This should apply to barbers. Public health personnel should randomly raid these and if one is found without a functioning sterilser he be heavily fined.

    • Dr Dredd

      The Practice of Sharing needles has been discarded long back by many in the Medical profession.

    • anon

      If proper research has been done it is imperative for the ministry of health to shut all non complying barbershops in the interest f public health. I strongly agree with you Never.

  • bhinikwa

    This means men should just buy their own clippers period.

    • Kaboom Ngwenya

      now its amplified by youngsters on their mobiles

  • Wellington

    I knew it

    • Kaboom Ngwenya

      And these are the same people who microwave their own underpants.

  • Sikhosana

    Akula story lapha. Just an alarmist article with no substance. In any case the quoted journal refers to the need for further studies on HIV and other viruses transmission in this way. Those studies have not been done, so please tone down the alarmist attitude. What the Chronicle needs to do is, of the figures it cites for the new transmissions, find out how many are through ukugelwa impabanga. I can tell you the figure will be …. dololo

  • Essexvale

    I shall be growing an Afro style as I did when they were fashionable and will trim it myself! There ….. problem solved

    • Kaboom Ngwenya

      At 86 all I know is … I don’t know!!

  • Mam’Khupe

    How about mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects (ticks, bedbugs or leeches????

    • benjamin

      Studies have shown that mosquitoes in particular do not pose any risk of tramsmission as the HIV virus cannot survive inside a mosquito. People have a misconception of how a mosquito feeds. Many think that it vomits out old blood first. That is wrong. During a mosquito bite, the mosquito pierces your skin then it secrets an anticoagulant that keeps the blood its going to suck from clotting. Thats where the itch comes from.

      Also, it does not necessarily mean that everytime your blood mixes with that of an infected person your will definitely contract the virus. Many conditions apply, such as the amount of blood, the concentration of the virus in the infected blood, your general health status and strength of your immunity etc,,, which is why its generally accepted that kissing or body contact is not likely to lead to infection because the concentration of the virus in saliva or sweat is too low to actually lead to an infection,,, ie, your immune system is likely able to deal with the amount of virus that may move onto or into your body during kissing or sports contact etc. However, you don’t want to kiss an infected person who has sores around or in their mouth as that mey result in direct blood contact.

      Visit an HIV/AIDS counselling centre for more information and peace of mind.

  • Bekezela Moyo

    Yes it is advisable to own your own clippers….But the HIV virus does not live longer in dead blood. Kanti imuntu nxa egelwa uyabe ehlinzwa yini….Do your research right than to cause a scare and put other people’s business in jeopardy….Give in percentages people who have contacted the HIV through barbing

    • Skhangele Mangethe

      Get someone superior than you mentally to read the story, then interpret it in vernacular for you, what other research do you need, it’s clearly written the research has been done already. Unless if you were commenting just for the sake of commenting, without noting how empty & useless your contribution is?

      • Bekezela Moyo

        The said statistics do not indicate whether the figures are from barber shops….and then you will realise how shallow minded your pumpkin above your shoulders is…..They are not brothels likle I suppose you have one….

        • Skhangele Mangethe

          Naah, the fact that you were raised in one and were forced to see the sanity of that place as being a business place, doesn’t mean everyone owns one. Actually that’s a dirty immoral place, equivalent to Manor and Waverly hotels were your sisters and aunts can be found every other day, making their monies off drunken vagabonds.

          • Bekezela Moyo

            Your arguments lack focus and expose your ignorance, maturity and mental competency to read between the lines….you are simple mentioning places of which you are a product of….you have skipped the subject under discussion…dwell on the subject raised and spill out your facts….

  • Father Priest Tonde

    Bald headed jesuit Father Priest Tonde excepted. He only visits the barber if the barber orders a one on one mass or holy communion.

  • Father Priest Tonde

    If you put on a paraffini hat after the barber’s shave, all AIDS virus suffocates and dies. This is why a paraffini hat is a must for every right thinking man.