Tattooing With Hiv: A Slap In The Face
Yesterday, I contacted a local tattoo parlor about possibly getting some work done. I have 3 tattoos and 3 piercings. I not only want some new work, but I also want to get some touch-ups on a few of the ones I have. Yes, tattoos and piercings are addictive and once you get one, you always want another.
I have not gotten a tattoo since my HIV diagnosis so I was not really sure of how to handle the situation. Part of me waited this long because I was afraid of rejection and how it might impact me. I know plenty of people who have gotten them while HIV-positive, but I just didn’t know the exact procedures that needed to be followed. I figured now was a good time due to the fact that I now have an undetectable viral load and that maybe a tattoo would not be such a shock to my system. I contacted the parlor via email and asked what their shop rates were and if they had a policy against tattooing people with HIV. I felt that it was better to be upfront about it and let them know before I just went into the shop. A part of me regrets ever asking now, but I am always honest about my diagnosis, especially when there is a higher risk involved. I did get a reply back that was short and simple. They said, “No we will not. Thanks for asking and we appreciate your concern for the well being of our artists and customers.”
What Are The Risks Of Getting Hiv From A Tattoo
There are no known cases of anyone getting HIV from having a tattoo, however, that doesnt mean that the risk is not there.
It is possible to get HIV this way through an unsterilized needle or from contaminated ink that has been shared.
The best way to reduce the risk is to make sure that the tattoo studio and the tattoo artist that you use are licensed and that they are hygienic in their procedures.
Can Hiv Transmitted Through Tattoo
There is no documented HIV outbreak among tattooing in the United States, but the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that tattoo needles thported with HIV acquisition via tattooing but does caution that it is possible for a tattoo needle that has been exposed to contaminated blood has the potential
You May Like: How Many Sessions To Remove Tattoo
How Tattoos Can Spread Hepatitis
Getting a tattoo requires that your skin is pierced by a needle and injected with tiny amounts of ink. The bigger the tattoo, the more injections you’ll need, and each injection brings the needle into contact with your blood . This isn’t a problem if that needle is brand new and never came into contact with any infectious agents. But what happens if the artist already used your needle on someone else? Then you become exposed to any microbes in that person’s blood, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and even HIV if he or she harbors those diseases.
What We Know About Anal Sex
Anal sex is the riskiest type of sex for getting or transmitting HIV. Although receptive anal sex is much riskier for getting HIV than insertive anal sex, its possible for either partnerthe insertive or receptiveto get HIV.
An HIV-negative receptive partners risk of getting HIV is very high because the lining of the rectum is thin. HIV can enter the body through this lining during anal sex from body fluids that carry HIV, including semen or pre-seminal fluid .
On average, an HIV-negative receptive partner has about a 1 in 70 chance of getting HIV every time they have receptive anal sex with a partner who has HIV.
Being the receptive partner for anal sex is about 13 times more risky for getting HIV from a partner with HIV than being the insertive partner.
For women, anal sex is about 17 times more risky for getting HIV from a man with HIV than vaginal sex.
If the partner with HIV takes HIV medicine as prescribed, and gets and keeps an undetectable viral load , you have effectively no risk of getting HIV through sex with that partner.
See how receptive anal sex compares to other sexual activities here.
An HIV-negative insertive partner is also at risk because HIV can enter the body through the opening at the tip of the penis the foreskin if the penis isnt circumcised or small cuts, scratches, or open sores anywhere on the penis. There is some evidence that circumcision decreases a mans risk of getting HIV during sex.
Also Check: After Care Laser Tattoo Removal
Can You Get Bloodborne Pathogens From Tattoos
For 2022 Guidelines, please visit our Bloodborne Pathogens training page.
Its common to have an adverse skin reaction after getting a tattoo. Many see it as a small, temporary price to pay for the emotional and social benefits of permanent body art.
Sometimes, complications from tattoos go beyond the skin. In these cases, you may contract bloodborne pathogens that cause severe, long-lasting health issues.
Professional artists in tattoo parlors undergo training to reduce the risk, but there are still cases of exposure. If you are considering your next tattoo, this article will explain how you can contract bloodborne pathogens so that you can take the necessary precautions.
How Can You Protect Yourself And Others
It is not currently possible to sterilize tattooing and piercing equipment in prison in the same way as in a professional tattoo or piercing shop. But there are things you can do to reduce the chance of getting or passing on Hep C, HIV or other infections while getting a tattoo or piercing in prison. This page explains some of these things.
You May Like: Celebrity Tattoo Removal Before And After
Check What Ppe They Use
Make sure your tattooist washes their hands and other potentially exposed body parts to reduce the risk of spreading bloodborne pathogens. They should do this before and after putting on nitrile or latex gloves.
Along with gloves, tattoo artists should also wear face masks and eye protection such as face shields or goggles. Exposed body parts should be limited as much as possible, and the tattooist should be wearing clean clothing. Tattooists need to be disciplined in both using the correct PPE and putting it on properly.
The tattooist should also throw away anything that they cant sterilize, such as paper towels and gloves. Needles should go in a proper sharps container. It needs to be covered, protected against leaks, and labeled with appropriate biohazard signs.
If the artist gets any blood on them, they need to wash the affected body part immediately. Any torn or damaged PPE needs to replacement as well.
Why Transmission Is Unlikely
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the risk of HIV through tattooing or body piercing is considered low to negligible.
While the CDC accedes that there is a theoretical risk of transmission, there has yet to be a single documented case of HIV by any form of body art.
This is largely due to the fact that transmission could only occur if:
Within the context of body art, the likelihood of these conditions being satisfied as incredibly slim. The opportunity for infection is nowhere near as strong as, say, injecting drug use in which HIV-infected blood is delivered directly into a vein.
Don’t Miss: How To Get Rid Of A Fresh Tattoo
How Transmission Works
Tattoo artists inject ink into the second layer of a persons skin, known as the dermis, to create their designs. They do this by using a tattoo machine that punctures the skin with a series of tiny, high-speed needles . In comparison, body piercing uses a single needle to perforate the flesh.
Because of the broken skin, when the gun or needles are not properly disinfected, such infections can potentially be passed from one client to the next.
When To See A Doctor
If you begin to feel feverish and experience abnormal oozing or scabbing around the tattooed area, see a doctor. These are common signs of infection. You should also see a doctor if a rash or swelling lasts for more than a week.
If an infection isnt treated soon enough or cant be treated properly because the bacteria have become resistant to an antibiotic, abscesses can result. Removal may require special treatment in the clinic or hospital.
You should also see a doctor if you experience uncomfortable itching around the tattooed area or if the area is oozing pus or fluid. You may be having an allergic reaction to the ink.
An allergic reaction can also lead to anaphylactic shock. This causes your throat to close up and your blood pressure to become dangerously low. Go to the emergency room right away if this kind of allergic reaction occurs.
Don’t Miss: Can I Use Aspercreme With Lidocaine Before A Tattoo
Stay Aware Of Bloodborne Pathogens
Most professional tattoo artists are responsible when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting. If youre still worried after getting a tattoo, get a blood test to know for sure. Hepatitis and other bloodborne diseases may go years before showing symptoms, and it is crucial to treat them as early as possible.
If you would like to know more about bloodborne pathogens and effective prevention strategies, follow our blog.
Tips For Safe Tattoos
Here are a few safety tips that may be common knowledge for most people. However, it doesnt hurt to review some safety measures for people who are deciding on getting their first tattoo.
- Get a tattoo from a licensed, reputable facility. Keep in mind tattoo regulations and requirements vary by state. Therefore, check with your local department of health.
- Choose another facility if there is evidence of poor hygiene such as work surfaces, chairs, and equipment not properly cleaned and sterilized.
- Check to make sure your artist uses a fresh pair of gloves and washes their hands before starting the procedure.
- Make sure you observe your artist removing needles from a new, sealed package. Needles and razors should never be reused.
- The area of skin being tattooed should be swabbed with a disinfectant such as alcohol before tattooing.
- Fresh tattoos should be covered with sterile gauze or a bandage.
Don’t Miss: How Does Tattoo Removal Feel
Can A Tattoo Shop Refuse You If You Have Hiv
HIV/AIDS patients cant be refused treatment by tattoo shops. There is no way they can inquire about it. Contracts and forms that do so are not allowed to do so. A tattoo artist may not refuse services due to his or her HIV status and people with HIV or AIDS can already take legal action to oppose the service.
Patron Observed Sterile Treatment For Tattooing
|Box 13: POST for tattooing|
|1. Avoid skin-piercing procedures||Dont get a tattoo. This only works for people who are willing to forego a tattoo.|
|2. Use new disposable instruments||Ask the tattooist to use new needle from sealed packages. Ask the tattooist to use new inkpots from sealed packages. Ask the tattooist to open a new bottle of ink for you .|
|3. You sterilize the instruments||You can boil needles and inkpots.|
|4. Ask providers how they sterilize instruments||Ask the tattooist how he or she cleans hand-pieces: Vibrating hand-pieces that do not come into contact with skin may be contaminated by small bits of blood and tissue thrown into the air while tattooing. Hand-pieces should be sterilized. If not, HIV and other germs may vibrate off them onto subsequent clients. As the tattooist what he does with left-over ink: Left-over ink should be thrown away. If the tattooist saves ink from an ink-pot used during a previous tattoo, the ink may be contaminated and dangerous. If you believe a tattooist is careful, thats your call.|
Recommended Reading: Is Laser Tattoo Removal Covered By Insurance
Risk Of Transmission From Tattoo Needles
Despite the risks, the possibility of becoming infected by blood-borne diseases while getting a tattoo is lower than other needlestick injuries. A tattoo needle is not like a syringe, where a vessel contains the liquid and injects it.
Instead, the tattoo needle is dipped into ink, so the ink rests on the exterior, exposing it to air. When you get punctured, the needle pushes the ink into your dermis.
This is significant because it greatly reduces how long HIV stays active. When its exposed to air, the virus is mostly inactive after only a few hours. To create a serious hazard, the infected person who could possibly transmit it must have an incredibly high viral load or the equipment must be highly contaminated.
Many STDs that are concerning in tattoo contexts do not last long outside the body. Bacteria that cause syphilis, for example, die within minutes outside the human body, so there is little risk of getting the disease during a tattoo.
Hepatitis B and C, unlike HIV, can easily infect someone getting a tattoo if the artist is not following the correct procedures. Both can live outside the body for six to seven weeks. A 2013 study by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases found that a significantly higher risk of hepatitis C transmission existed if a person had at least one tattoo.
How To Stay Safe From Bloodborne Pathogens
You and your artist must follow safety procedures before, during, and after the tattooing process. The most important aspect of this is working with a certified professional tattoo artist. Amateur tattooists using home tattoo kits are at a much greater risk of spreading bloodborne pathogens than professionals, primarily due to training and government regulations.
Because they come into contact with blood in their work, tattoo artists need to be certified to perform the service. At a federal level, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets standards for bloodborne pathogen training for all states. There are 28 states that use their own OSHA-approved requirements.
Certification programs are available through various providers, often businesses in the health care field, for a fee. Courses consist of training followed by a certification exam.
You can perform the training in person, but online BBP training programs are offered for affordable and convenient certification. To maintain their certifications, tattooists need to retake the training every year.
Working with a certified artist is the most effective way to stay safe from bloodborne pathogens. There is still room for error with professionals, so use the following tips to make sure you minimize the risk of infection.
Recommended Reading: Best Thermal Copier For Tattoos
How Do You Contract Bloodborne Pathogens From Tattoos
Needlestick injuries are the primary concern when it comes to transmitting bloodborne pathogens. Drug users have a higher risk of disease, and health care workers must take extra precautions when working with needles.
The same is true for tattoo artists. They use a hand-held tattoo machine, which has a needle to puncture the top layer of the skin and inject ink into the next layer, the dermis. The needle moves in and out of your skin rapidly, similar to a sewing machine action, hitting your skin anywhere from 50 to 3,000 times each minute.
The needle forces tiny droplets of ink into the dermis with each impact. The dermis is full of nerves, glands, and blood vessels. Not only does it hurt, but it also makes you bleed.
Contaminated equipment can spread bloodborne pathogens. Your tattoo is an open wound, and there is little interference if a bloodborne pathogen is present in the ink, needle, or another piece of equipment. Any bodily fluid that makes contact with a tattoo can also potentially spread a bloodborne pathogen.
Can You Get Hiv From A Tattoo Or Body Piercing
Can You Get HIV From a Tattoo or Body Piercing?
Tattooing is the process or method of inserting pigment into the dermis of the skin to create a design. Traditionally, tattooing entailed rubbing pigment into cuts. However, to limit the risk to human health,
modern tattooing necessitates the use of a tattoo machine and accessories.
Different people have different understandings of tattooing. Some take tattooing as a way of self-expression, while others believe that it can be dangerous to get a tattoo. Some people even believe that getting a tattoo or body piercing can transmit HIV. If you also think that tattoo or body piercing causes HIV, then read this post.
Scroll down to know whether you can get HIV from a tattoo or body piercing, or its just a myth.
Before we discuss the topic, lets first understand why people think that tattooing or body piercing can cause HIV.
As said earlier, tattooing involves inserting pigments into the dermis . Tattoo artists inject ink into the dermis to create the desired tattoo design. They use a tattoo machine to make the design. A tattoo machine punctures the skin with a gun that has several small, high-speed needles connected to it.
Similarly, body piercing also involves the process of puncturing the skin. But body piercing employs a single needle to perforate the flesh.
Lets now see whether what people think about tattoo or body piercing transmitting HIV is true or not.
You May Like: Body Art And Soul Tattoo School
What You Can Do
Not having sex is a 100% effective way to make sure you dont get or transmit HIV through sex. If youre sexually active, you can lower your risk by choosing sexual activities that carry a lower risk for HIV than anal sex. You can also do other things to reduce your risk, including taking medicine to prevent or treat HIV and using condomsthe right way, every time. Condoms and medicine to prevent or treat HIV are highly effective at preventing HIV if used correctly. But the medicines are much less effective if you dont take them daily as prescribed, and condoms can sometimes break or come off during anal sex. Using a water-based or silicone lubricant can help prevent condoms from breaking or slipping.
Talking openly and frequently with your partner about sex can help you make decisions that decrease your risk of getting or transmitting HIV. Learn more about how to get the conversation started.
Certain things about your sex and injection partners can put you at increased risk for getting or transmitting HIV. Explore Estimate the HIV Risk to learn more.
Explore other resources from CDC: