HIV and pedicure on holiday

Originally Posted: 
Monday, September 12, 2011
Tagged With: 

I recently travelled to a country in Africa where there is a 1 in 10 incidence of HIV in adults. I had a 'pedicure' on the street which i thought would only involve painting nails but halfway through the guy whipped out a metal file (unwashed, and i know coz he used it 5 mins later on someone else without washing it) and scraped under my toe with it before i could stop him. i didnt see any cuts or abrasions/bleeding on examining my toe and i didnt see anything on the file (although i only got a brief glance) but im really worried i could have become infected with HIV. I know it sounds silly but im freaking out, can you tell me how likely it is an infection could be passed on this way?


Thank you for using AIDS Vancouver as your source of HIV/AIDS related information.
Having a pedicure, even with an unwashed metal file, poses no risk of HIV transmission. Even if there was a cut/abrasion/bleeding, the HIV virus cannot survive outside of the body for more than a few minutes. For HIV transmission to be possible, HIV+ fluids (blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, pre-cum, rectal secretions) need to come into direct contact with your blood stream. In addition, HIV transmission through open cuts is still a theory and we have only seen one case of transmission this way, and that was through a bloody knife fight where there were many open, profusely bleeding wounds and a knife involved. So no, there is no risk of HIV transmission through manicures or pedicures.
Hopefully you find the information helpful.
Take care,
AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer
Direct: 604-696-4666 (M-F 9am-4pm PST)


The AIDS Vancouver Helpline is a volunteer-driven information, referral and support service related to HIV and sexual health. Volunteers are trained in active listening, HIV and sexual health information, and local resources and services. Volunteers are not doctors, nurses, or other licensed professionals. Volunteers do not give advice, and strive to provide service-users with adequate information and appropriate referrals.

Helpline volunteers uphold the agency’s confidentiality and privacy policies. Your calls, forum posts, and emails are anonymous. We welcome you to use a pseudonym or “fake name” when using Helpline services.  We will not ask for or track your personal information. To ensure that the Helpline program is providing quality services, the Helpline Coordinator regularly monitors online content (forum posts and emails) and supervises volunteers who are receiving calls.  

The Helpline Program should not be used in replacement of medical examination, diagnosis, advice counseling or follow-up care. We strongly recommend routine testing (HIV and STI tests) and discussing your healthcare directly with a physician.

We would love to hear from you! If you have feedback or questions related to the operations of the Helpline, please contact David at or by calling 604.696.4666.

Stay Connected

Keep in touch with AIDS Vancouver and signup for our newsletter!

Please leave this field empty

The New Face of HIV

For Project details or information on how you can get involved, CLICK HERE.