More than a decade ago, a young Brazilian girl did what many girls do: She got a manicure. Now 22, the unidentified woman recently found out she's HIV-positive when she went to donate blood—and a study of her situation points to the manicure instruments she used 11 years ago, the New York Daily News reports. The study published in the AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses journal says that the woman used her older cousin's manicure gear when she was a child, Medical Daily reports; the cousin was later found out to be HIV-positive. After the 22-year-old's recent blood donation turned up an HIV diagnosis, doctors realized they had to go further back in her history than they anticipated: Her bloodwork revealed a "high viral load," which means the infection had been there for a long time, Fox News reports.
The likely baffled patient told doctors she hadn't had unprotected sex or shared needles with anyone, the most typical risk factors for HIV transmission, the CDC reports. Genetic testing on both the woman and her cousin showed they shared a "common viral ancestor" that dates back about 11 years and coincides with the cousin sharing her instruments. Although the study's authors warn that sharing "utensils with possible blood-blood contact" (a group that also includes tattoo or acupuncture needles) without proper disinfection can up the risk for contracting HIV and other diseases, it's not clear if this patient had blood-to-blood contact. The study's authors says it's a "very rare event that should serve not to make people fear HIV or contact with HIV-infected people." (Some fear a certain kind of manicure can cause cancer.)