What Are The Risk Factors For Hepatitis C
The two most common risk factors for HCV are injection drug use and having had a blood transfusion before 1992.
Before 1992, blood donations werent tested for HCV. Many people were infected when they were given HCV-positive blood during a transfusion.
Today, all donated blood is checked for HCV, among other viruses.
A third risk factor is having tattoos. In one study , people with HCV were found to be more likely to have tattoos than people without the virus.
This study also controlled for people who may have HCV because of injected drug use and a contaminated blood transfusion.
Not only is it possible to share your infection if you have HCV and get a tattoo, but you might also develop an infection from exposure to a contaminated needle.
Tattoos Are For Everybodyand That Includes People Living With Hiv
When I read about George Westwood, a 19-year-old gay man from the U.K. who was denied a tattoo at a local studio because of his HIV status, I began to see red. As a queer woman who actively collects tattoos, seeking work from different artists all around the country, Im no stranger to the particular and borderline exclusionary social mores of the tattoo industry. Its a subculture that, almost a century after its emergence into the U.S., is still largely dominated by white, cisgender, and heterosexual men.
Like most industries, subcultural or not, tattooing has its own codes of conduct. Clients and tattooers alike are expected to respect artists integrity, specialized skill, and ability to refuse clients at will.
I dont have an issue with professional tattooers establishing boundaries about imagery or circumstances in which they will or will not tattoo. After all, you probably shouldnt get your neck tattooed if you have no visible ink whatsoeverand you definitely shouldnt be tattooed while inebriated. But when tattoo artists purposefully deny clients from marginalized groups because of circumstances or physical attributes they cannot control, thats not a personal boundary: its misinformed at best, and discriminatory at worst.
Its shocking to me, too, but for a different reason. Denying an HIV-positive customer because of their status is, in most cases, completely irrational.
What Hepatitis Can You Get From Tattoos
As tattoo needles puncture the skin and cause bleeding, Hepatitis is amongst the likeliest viral infections to be transmitted. You should be alarmed if the tools arent properly sterilized and the overall establishment has poor infection control standards. The most common way Hepatitis C spreads is through the shared use of contaminated needles and equipment used for drugs. Sharing personal items that may come into contact with blood such as a razor or even a toothbrush can also spread HCV.
Approximately 2.7 3.9 million Americans are currently living with a chronic form of this infection. For those who arent familiar with the effects of the Hepatitis C virus , it causes a chronic liver infection which can lead to liver damage, liver cancer, and even liver failure.
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To Tattoo Or Not To Tattoo
Submitted on May 4, 2021 by JoDha
Even when it comes to HIV and tattoos the messages are pretty mixed. Can people with HIV get tattoos? Is there a risk to a tattoo artist in inking someone who’s HIV positive? Does a tattoo heal differently on someone with HIV?
The doctor I visited told me not to tattoo. Why? Because I am HIV positive. Because it will transmit to others through needles. Because the healing will be slow, there will be infection, there will be pus or blisters. Yes. Even in 2021, there are some doctors who are not up-to-date and will discourage about something which is almost ZERO RISK, especially when following hygiene and safety measures.
I did go to another doctor to have second opinion, an infectious disease specialist who gave me a go ahead and this got me to bust the myth that people living with HIV cannot have tattoo.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind:
I got my tattoo done on my left arm. It took two hours but I love the end result.
The RED RIBBON you see depicts the HIV ribbon.
BUTTERFLY: Butterfly means resurrection, change, hope, life. It is a powerful representation of transformation in life
LOTUS: It is a symbol of purity and hope. Lotus is also the symbol of enlightenment.
Hepatitis C Risk Factors
Hepatitis C spreads through blood-to-blood contact. Exposure to the virus may occur through blood infusions and intravenous drug use.
If a person shares drug equipment, such as needles and syringes, they may risk exposure to infected blood. Injection drug use is the cause of 60% of new cases of hepatitis C every year.
Blood supplies undergo screening for conditions that can transmit via blood, such as HCV. However, before 1992, healthcare professionals did not screen for HCV. A person who has received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before this time may have been at higher risk of exposure to HCV.
Although less common, other ways hepatitis C may spread include :
- Birth: There is a small chance that a person with hepatitis C will pass on the infection to their infant, estimated at roughly a 6% chance.
- Healthcare: Since exposure to a personâs blood is a possibility in the medical profession, there is the chance of hepatitis C transmission if healthcare professionals do not follow proper procedures, although this is rare.
- Sex with a person infected with hepatitis C: Although uncommon, people can spread HCV through sexual contact. Risk factors can
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Why Ink Color May Matter
The exact extent of adverse reactions to tattoos is not well understood in the United States. The color of the ink may be related to the risk of inflammation, allergic reactions, and hypersensitivity, because of certain ingredients, including chromium in green ink, cadmium in yellow ink, mercury salt in red ink, and cobalt in blue ink.
In one study of people with tattoos who were selected at random in New York Citys Central Park, 10% had an adverse reaction to a tattoo. For 42% of those who described the reaction as related to the colors used in the tattoo, red was the culprit.
While 90% of those surveyed had black ink in their tattoos, only 25% reported a reaction. The authors of the study conclude that such reactions to tattoos are common.
Testing the ink with a patch test on the skin may or may not be helpful. People who had a reaction to a tattoo who were later given a patch test with red ink did not have the same reaction.
Its thought that the process of receiving the ink during the tattoo session is different enough from a patch test that they are not equivalent. However, reputable tattoo artists will help with completing patch tests when clients have a concern about an allergic reaction.
How It Could Be Transmitted
HIV can be transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids, such as blood and saliva. The tattoo process involves several needles piercing the skin and inserting ink into the dermis which is the second layer of skin.
If this is done using a gun that hasnt been disinfected or needles that arent disposable, there could be a possibility of infection. However, there are no known cases of this happening in the US.
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Selecting Where To Get A Tattoo Or Piercing
Here are some tips to help you make safe and informed decisions about where and how to get a tattoo or piercing:
- Check out many different artists. Is the artist a professional? If the artist is not a professional, your chances of getting poor work done, as well as getting infections and viruses increases.
- Everything New, Every Time. The artist should use new needles, ink, ink pots, jewelry, and tattooing stencils basically everything that cannot be properly sterilized.
- Ask questions and don’t be afraid to walk out! A good artist will always be comfortable answering anything you have to ask such as: How many years have you been tattooing/piercing for?, Where did you apprentice, May I see your portfolio?, Do you use new needles/ink/jewelry/gloves/razors/etc. every time?
- Look for: Health Board Inspection Certificate, clean and tidy work area, an autoclave to properly sterilize the permanent equipment, biohazard containers to throw away used needles and other pieces of equipment that are exposed to bodily fluids.
- Piercing guns cannot be properly sterilized because they are made of plastic. Do not allow yourself to be pierced with a piercing gun.
Can I Get A Tattoo If I Have Hepatitis C
You can still get a tattoo if you have hep C, but its important to be upfront with your tattoo artist. Some artists might turn down the work to prevent potentially passing the infection on, while others might ask you to wait until you complete treatment for hep C. You can also find a tattoo artist trained in tattooing people with hep C.
Some people have a higher chance of contracting HCV, including people with an HIV infection, individuals who received transfusions or organ transplants, and folks who work in healthcare, emergency medical, or public safety fields.
You can pass on hep C through:
- healthcare exposures
- sex without a condom or other barrier method
- unregulated tattoos or body piercings
- blood transfusions and organ transplants
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Prioritize The Healing Process
Take steps to make sure you heal properly. Give your new tattoo up to 2 to 3 weeks to properly and fully heal before removing your bandages. Dont pick at any scabs left by the tattoo process.
Contact your doctor immediately if you develop signs of an infection, such as redness or pus drainage, or if your tattoo comes into contact with another persons blood.
HCV may go undetected and undiagnosed for years, even decades. Thats because the virus and infection rarely cause symptoms until the infection has progressed.
In many cases, HCV is found when liver damage is discovered through routine medical testing.
In the early stages, HCV may cause the following symptoms:
Can A Person Get A Tattoo If They Have Hepatitis C
A person with hepatitis C may still get a tattoo, but they should tell their tattoo artist. Some artists may not be comfortable tattooing in this case, or may advise them to wait until their treatment is complete.
A person with hepatitis C wishing to get a tattoo should seek out an artist who is qualified and experienced in tattooing people with hepatitis C. The artist may take further measures during the tattoo, such as wearing a mask or adding extra plastic coverings on surfaces.
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How To Check If A Tattoo Studio Is Hygienic
When you are getting your first tattoo there are lots of questions that you should ask. You should always question the professionalism, licensing and hygiene standards of the tattoo studio and the tattoo artists working there.
Tattoo studios should always use disposable equipment when dealing with tattoos and blood. This equipment that should be thrown away after one use would be needles, razors, gloves and ointment.
All chairs, armrests, beds and wires should be covered and sterilized after every use to make sure that they are clean for the next customer. Disinfectant should be available at every station in the tattoo studio.
‘i Was Refused A Tattoo Because I Am Hiv Positive’
Deejay Bullock says he was “absolutely devastated” to be refused a tattoo because he is HIV positive.
The 38-year-old, who was diagnosed a decade ago, said he was shocked to be turned away because there had been no problems with his previous tattoos.
HIV groups say Deejay should not have been refused and are publishing new guidelines aimed at stopping people with HIV being discriminated against.
They say refusing an HIV positive person is illegal under equality laws.
Tattooists should not even ask clients about their HIV status, the organisations said.
Deejay, who lives in Aberdeen, has been living with HIV since 2006 but was not diagnosed until 2009.
He told BBC Scotland he struggled with his status at first and his mental health declined rapidly.
For his first two tattoos, which he had soon after his diagnosis, he did not disclose his HIV for fear of being rejected.
Since 2012, Deejay has worked in LGBT health, which he said had boosted his confidence and helped him to come to terms with his status.
More recently, he has had two tattoos in Aberdeen at which he declared on the form that he was HIV positive.
“It was absolutely fine. There were no questions,” he said. “It was never even discussed.”
In July this year, Deejay decided to get a tattoo for his birthday.
He found a tattooist in Dundee who could fit him in and went along and filled out a form.
“I handed it back to him and he looked and said ‘are you joking?’.”
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Tattoos And Body Piercings
- There are no known cases in the United States of anyone getting HIV this way.
- However, it is possible to get HIV from tattooing or body piercing if the equipment used for these procedures has someone elses blood in it or if the ink is shared. This is more likely to happen when the person doing the procedure is unlicensed because of the potential for unsanitary practices such as sharing needles or ink.
- If you get a tattoo or a body piercing, be sure that the person doing the procedure is properly licensed and that they use only new or sterilized needles, ink, and other supplies.
When Tattoos Go Beyond Art
Tattoos may have a significance for some who receive them as an expression of their values and beliefs. Tattoos are an ancient practice, and they are incorporated into cultural and religious practices around the world.
People who live with chronic illness who may receive a tattoo as part of their culture may wish to consult healthcare providers in order to assess and minimize any potential risks. In the instance that a tattoo is part of a tradition, its important for healthcare providers and tattoo artists to respect how body art is important to a persons identity.
Theres a theory that short-lived exposure to stress, such as when getting a tattoo, could be beneficial for the immune system. The authors of one study made a comparison between the immune response of getting a tattoo with the beneficial stress that comes from regular exercise. However, they point out that tattooing doesnt have the same beneficial impact as vaccines or exercise and that people with tattoos still need to care for their health appropriately.
Whatever the reason for receiving a tattoo, its important to consider and be prepared for the potential risks.
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How Transmission May Occur
Tattoo artists create their designs by injecting ink into the second layer of a person’s skin, known as the dermis. They do this by using a tattoo machine which punctures the skin with a collection of small, high-speed needles. Body piercing, by contrast, uses a single needle to puncture the skin.
As a result of the broken skin, certain infections can theoretically be passed from one customer to the next if the gun or needles aren’t properly disinfected. But do they?
How Are Tattoos Done
Skin puncturing and injecting ink into the persons dermis is the process that a tattoo follows. It uses a machine containing needles to penetrate the skin and make the design.
On the other hand, body piercing only requires a single needle for the entire process.
Any of these processes can cause the skin to break. It is where infections enter the body or transmit from one customer to another if the needle is contaminated. That is why it is essential for the tattoo/piercing artist to use a fresh needle every time.
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Getting A Tattoo If You Have Hcv
If you have HCV and want a tattoo, the same rules for preventing an infection apply for preventing the spread of the virus. Let your tattoo artist know that you have HCV.
If the artist is uncomfortable giving you a tattoo, seek out an artist whos trained and capable of tattooing people with HCV.
Be sure to ask for new equipment for your tattoo. Watch as your artist throws the equipment away or sterilizes it after your tattoo is finished.
Ask your artist to wear gloves during the tattooing process and cover your new tattoo with sterile gauze until it has fully healed, scars and all.
Hepatitis C Prevention And Tattoos
The risk of hepatitis C exposure during the tattooing process comes from the reuse of unsterilized needles that may still have a previous clientâs blood on them. If a tattoo artist does not use new pots of ink, blood may also get into the tattoo ink.
Even if the blood is not visible on the equipment, hepatitis C can still spread. HCV can live outside the body and on surfaces for a long time, with some evidence from 2013 suggesting it can remain infectious for up to 6 weeks outside the body.
To reduce the risk of HCV transmission, a person should only go to a licensed tattoo parlor. The laws around tattoos vary from state to state. To ensure a safe and hygienic environment, a tattoo artist will:
- wear gloves throughout the process
- use new needles from a separate, sterilized packet
- use new ink and containers
- wrap everything they may touch during the procedure in plastic wrap
It is not advisable to receive a tattoo if the artist does not follow these hygienic procedures, as it increases the risk of health complications. To further reduce the risk of any infection during the healing process, a person should also follow the aftercare advice given by the tattoo artist.
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