Barber shops could be cozy HIV/AIDS nests
By Arusha Times Correspondent
Use of unsterilized or poorly cleaned shaving tools can lead to the spread of HIV/Aids and other communicable diseases from the infected clients to others, according to a recent survey.
The main concern has, however, been on the use of shaving razor blades, pair of scissors and electric hair trimmers which have not been cleaned using the recommended chemicals, the Kilimanjaro Regional Medical Doctor Mtumwa Mwako has said.
He said in Moshi last week that instead of using the recommended chemicals to clean up their shaving tools, many barbers have resorted to use of methylated spirits which, according to him, cannot kill viruses including those which spread HIV/Aids.
"It is wrong for barbers to use shaving tools which have not been cleaned with hot water. The spirits alone cannot kill the virus", he said.
Another medical specialist based in Moshi Dr.Abdul Kareem underscored the need to sensitize barbers on the dangers they pose to their clients by using machines which have not been sterilized to shave and instead use only the spirits.
He said people who have sustained small wounds like accidental scratches on their heads carry the highest risks of contracting HIV/Aids if an unsterilized gadget (that has been contaminated with the virus) is used to shave him or her.
HIV/Aids which so far has no cure save for the live-prolonging drugs, is largely spread through the blood contact of the infected person to the one not infected.
The ministry of Health and Social Welfare has insisted that hair trimmers, pair of scissors and razor blades used should be either sterilized with the recommended chemicals or cleaned in boiling water to eliminated viruses and other disease careers.
However, investigation by this newspaper have indicated that many barber shops do not follow the recommended measures and instead stick to the application of methylated spirits and cotton wool.
Residents of Moshi municipality interviewed said many barbers believe the spirits can kill the virus that spreads HIV/Aids which is not true. They have called on the relevant authorities to force hair cutters to observe safest measures to protect their clients from contracting the deadly disease.
Speaking to this newspaper at the weekend, two Moshi-based residents who normally trim their hair in barber shops and who identified themselves as Godfrey Abeli and Sophie Kitosi admitted that they were not sure of the safety of the equipment used to shave them.
According to them, one trimming machine can be used by up to 10 people or more in a span of hours and that they normally cleanse it using the methylated spirit.
But a barber identified as Ismael Ramadhani said he would normally wash the shaving tools using hot water and apply spirit on them.
According to experts, shaving can have numerous side effects, including cuts, abrasions and irritation. Many side effects can be minimized by using a fresh blade.
Cuts from shaving can bleed for about 15 minutes. Common methods used to stop shaving-induced bleeding include pressing any simple alcohol onto the cut.