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HIV - Prevention Forum
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Avatar universal

Fish SPA - HIV risk?

Hello dear Doctor
My fear is related to an article of the daily mail, that one could get HIV from using a fish spa if the water is not changed and another customer had cuts or bleedings in the tank.

I've been using one in Thailand when backpacking there - and they do not change the water there after every client because they say HIV does not survive in water and cannot be transmitted through fish. So that there is no reason for being concerned.

I had 2 open blisters in my feet but they did not bleed any more they were just sore.
Could HIV be transmitted like that via water - as the article says?The water looked quite clean but I don't know if one could see small amount of blood in a 100l tank...

I'd be very grateful for a reply. I married my school-boyfriend and therefore I am not best educated in HIV related concerns....
3 Responses
300980 tn?1194933000
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Welcome to our Forum.  You need not be concerned about this event.  Your hosts are correct that HIV does not survive in water- the virus is quite fragile and begins to die as soon as it leaves the human body.  Because fresh water is so much more dilute that the fluids in the human body, the virus dies immediately upon contact with fresh water.  Thus even if a person with HIV had been in the spa before you, and even if they they bled into the water, there would be no risk to you.  There is no reason for concern and no reason for testing.  

Enjoy your trip.  EWH
Avatar universal
Thanks for your answer Dr. Hook. So does it happen that quickly that the virus dies when it comes into contact with the envronment? When I went to school - which is 10 years ago - we've been told it takes up to several hours. So is this outdated by now if you say it dies immediately?
The article also claims, that the fish could transmit HIV - but I think that this is not true, either.
Would you call the water also "fresh" if there live many fish in it? They are used there to nibble away dead skin from your feet. In that water, there are more microorganism than in e.g. tap water.
Sorry for my concerns. I've been in an area with a quite high HIV prevalence.
Thank you again!

300980 tn?1194933000
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
I repeat- no risk. The information you received about the time for HIV to die is incorrect. Even in the body the virus lives only a few hours at most.  The exposure you describe is not risk and HIV is not spread by fish.  EWH
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