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tattoo & HIV/HCV
Mar 10, 2006

I had a tattoo 11 months ago. Found out later lady who did it was an IV drug user. 3 weeks after procedure, had swollen lymph node in groin & rash in pubic area. 8 weeks after tattoo, had a horrible case of tonsilitis. Saw a surgeon who suggested having lymph node removed to check for lymphoma. Asked him to do HIV test. Didn't think about HCV. HIV was negative. No lymphoma. Various symptoms since then, including low grade fever, headaches, and the scariest, poor blood circulation in hands & feet. I'm a 20 year old female. Other symptoms include dry eyes, tiredness, no weight loss, but lost about 5 pounds during time of swollen lymph node & surgery. Some muscle & joint aches. Unusual spots on face, like freckles. Brown - not red. I am scared to death. Too scared to go back for testing. Please tell me if you think I have HIV and HCV. Thank you. SCARED.

Response from Dr. McGovern

Your illness sounds significant and does not have to be related to your tatoo. If a clean needle was used, as is done in most tatoo parlors, you probably did not acquire your infection there. We worry more about tatoos when they are done among friends and equipment is shared. Your symptoms do not make me consider hepatitis C as a likely cause. Your physicians were prudent to obtain HIV testing and a lymph node biopsy to determine what may be the issue. You will need to go back for further diagnostic testing with your doctor to further determine what could be the cause of all your symptoms. If you only had an HIV antibody, and not an HIV RNA test at the time of your terrible tonsillitis, you may want to consider retesting for HIV and other viruses, such as mononucleosis. If you were sexually active at the time, other causes for the groin lymph nodes could be considered. This will be important to discuss with your physician.

Dr. M



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