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Virol J. 2011 May 9;8:211. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-8-211.

Role of Potash Alum in hepatitis C virus transmission at barber's shop.

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NUST Center of Virology and Immunology, National University of Sciences and Technology, H-12 Sector, Islamabad, Pakistan.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the main cause of severe liver disease, including hepatocellular carcinoma, cirrhosis and end stage liver disease. In Pakistan most of HCV positive patients have history of facial/armpit shaving from barbers. 79% of barbers are rubbing Potash Alum stone on facial shaving cuts. Dark blood spots are analyzed on Potash Alum stones being used at different barber shops. The aim of the study was to check the viability of hepatitis C virus on potash alum stone being used at barber shops. Blood samples from HCV positive patients were taken and treated with 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4 and 0.5 molar concentrations of Potash Alum for different periods of time. Blood was centrifuged to isolate the serum; HCV RNA was extracted from serum and subjected to first strand synthesis and PCR. PCR fragments were confirmed by sequencing. PCR amplification was observed in all the samples, treated with different concentrations of Potash Alum, indicated that the virus remains alive on Potash Alum stone for a long period of time. Potash Alum being used by barbers on facial shaving cuts has definite role in HCV transmission in Pakistani population. Therefore use of Potash Alum stone should be banned on facial shaving cuts at barber shops.

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