- HIV may have been passed between two sisters who shared
a razor to shave their legs, scientists said today.
- The report, in the journal Aids, is described as a "sobering"
reminder that the disease can be spread in unusual ways.
- In this case, an 18-year-old girl from Australia caught
the disease on the first occasion she had sex.
- Her 16-year-old sister later tested positive for the
virus when she donated blood.
- Both teenagers had a particular subtype of the virus
which is very rare in Australia, making it highly likely that one had infected
- The older girl was unaware of her HIV infection until
doctors began to investigate how her younger sister - who had never had
sex - had contracted the virus.
- Extensive questioning by doctors revealed only that the
pair shared a bathroom, and perhaps occasionally had used the same razor
to remove body hair.
- Body fluids
- HIV can be spread through contact with blood or other
body fluids from an infected person, so it is possible that the 18-year-old
nicked her leg with the razor, left blood on the blade, which was then
passed into a similar cut by 16-year-old.
- However, the experts who assessed the case say that findings
do not represent a "significant risk factor" for HIV spread.
- It remains primarily a disease spread either by sex,
or by the use of contaminated medical equipment, perhaps as part of injecting
- Early fears that the virus could be transmitted through
kissing, hugging or even sharing the same lavatory seat have been quashed.
- There have, however, been other cases in which HIV has
been passed with no obvious explanation.
- In one case - also in Australia - a mother may have contracted
HIV after applying ointment to psoriasis scales on the skin of her infected
- © BBC MMIII