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Tattoos and HIV/Hep C

Mar 11, 2003

I recently recieved a tattoo. When I got my tattoo the artist used deodorant to make the impression darker. He put the deodorant stick directly to my skin. I decided I didn't like the position so he took off the ink and moved it but did not use the deodorant again. Now, because he touched my skin with it he may have touched others skin with it. Am I at ANY risk for HIV/Hep C because of it? Besides that he used clean needles, the ink was in seperate containers, he had gloves on, and covered the insruments with plastic wrap. Please answer! I am very nervous!

Response from Mr. Kull

There is no evidence that HIV or HCV has ever been transmitted through tattooing, so you should not be worried about your risk for infection. I cannot guess whether or not the use of the deodorant would increase your risk in any way, but it seems highly unlikely. HIV does not survive long when it is exposed to the environment. It sounds like your tattoo artist engaged in good practice, and unless you know that you had a direct exposure to someone else's blood in the process, I would try not to worry.If the tattoo artist followed sterilization protocols, it is doubtful that you would be at risk.

The CDC states that there are no definitive data that suggest that tattooing alone is a risk factor for hepatitis C infection (hepatitis C virus is transmitted through contact with the blood of an infected person) and are currently conducting a large study to determine the risks involved. There have been some studies that have shown an association between hepatitis C infection and having a tattoo, but this has only been among small populations of people and the actual route of transmission had not been confirmed. In the CDC's overall surveillance of HCV transmission, less than 1% of the people reporting infection reported having a tattoo. Even in those cases transmission through receiving a tattoo is not confirmed.


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