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Tattoo needle stick risk?

Aug 31, 2014

My boyfriend is a tattoo artist and recently had a needle stick accident while tattooing a client. The needle penetrated through his glove and caused some bleeding; he later noticed a very small, very thin black line on his thumb where the needle hit (probably less than a cm). I have done extensive research on the risks of HIV from needle sticks and have found that the risk is about .3% with a hollow-bore needle; what do you think the risk is in this case? He is confident that he is fine and does not need testing but I am going crazy with anxiety! Would you say this is a low risk situation or is it higher because the needle did go into his thumb? It happened a week ago, so PEP would not be an option, I know. Any information would be appreciated. I would like to stop driving myself crazy out of fear, especially if it is not warranted. Thanks!

Response from Mr. Glenn

Thanks for your question,

It's awesome that you're looking out for your boyfriend by searching out information on how to ensure his health.

Here's the thing though: you need to stop looking up information online all the time. Judging from what you're telling me, you definitely have done "extensive" research. But the more you look up the crazier it's going to make you feel. Why? Because it sounds like you're looking for a definitive yes or no. You're not going to get that.

Your boyfriend's case is a little hard to judge (which is why you haven't found a definitive answer). It sounds like he did have risk, but not as efficiently as if he were sharing needles during drug use. He should talk to his supervisor and follow ALL the health/safety requirements his job has for a case like this. Then just to be certain of his health status, we'd recommend that he get a check up with his doctor and explain that he needs a HIV test and Hepatitis C test just to confirm he's negative after a minimal blood exposure.

If your boyfriend is interested in asking questions here, definitely encourage him to do so!

Hope this helps,


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