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BMC Public Health. 2012; 12: 707.
Published online 2012 August 29. doi:  10.1186/1471-2458-12-707
PMCID: PMC3491044

Potential risk of HIV transmission in barbering practice in Ethiopia: from public health and microbiological perspectives



HIV and other blood borne infections can be transmitted through the use of improperly sterilized and disinfected sharp equipments.


A cross sectional study was conducted from January to June, 2010 to assess the potential risk of HIV transmission in barbering practice in Ethiopia from public health and microbiological perspectives. Barbers in barbershop were interviewed using pre-designed questionnaires and check lists were used to evaluate barbering practice. Microbiological data from tips of the sharpener before and after the barbering was collected and processed as per the standard procedure.


One hundred and twenty three barbering sessions and barbers were observed in which 106 (86.2%) were males. Ninety six (78%) of the respondents knew that HIV could be transmitted by sharing non-sterile sharp instruments. Among the total participants 59 (48%) had the correct knowledge of what sterilization mean and 111 (94.1%) of them believed its importance in their work place. Barbers had a mean knowledge score of 6 ± 1.5 out of a score of 10 regarding sterilization and disinfection as well as in the transmission of HIV in their work place. Three (2.5%) barbers were disagreed that unsterilized blade can transmit skin diseases and 26 (21.3%) of them believed disinfection is enough to avoid microbes from sharp objects. Ninety two (76.7%) barbers were using sterilization in their establishment. According to Likert scaling almost all sterilization and disinfection procedures were riskily practiced and respondents had poor level of knowledge. No significant association was found to influence the decontamination and sterilization of barbering equipments except monthly income, pre and post colony count of microbes identified. The isolation of normal skin flora in the pre-and post- sterilization and disinfectant procedures and less average percent colony reduction showed that sterilization and disinfectant practices in barbershop were generally poor that proofed proper sterilization and/or disinfection techniques were unfavorable.


This study has revealed the presence of potential risk of HIV and other blood borne disease transmission among the barbers of the study areas. Thus continuous and intensified public health strategies on health education, training, supervision and monitoring are needed to facilitate the adoption of effective methods of sterilization and/or disinfection.

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