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Body piercings and the risk for HIV

Dec 17, 1998

Is there an increased risk of HIV transmission during the period of time it takes for body piercingss (particularly genital and tongue piercings) to heal? Since a piercing is, in effect, an open wound I'm assuming that there is an increased risk, though since it is external how great is it? What about after the piercing is healed? Does there continue to be increased risk? Does a piercing ever truly "heal"?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question. If you have a body piercing (genital, tongue, nipple, etc.), during the time that healing takes place, the risk of infection for HIV, certain other STDs, and various bacterial infections, is increased until the piercings have completely healed. For infections like HIV and hepatitis B, the piercing makes it easier for these infections to get into the bloodstream (leading to infection), until the piercing has completely healed. Depending upon the location of the piercing, each type of piercing takes a different amount of time to completely heal, ranging from weeks to months. For an estimated healing time for each type of body piercing, visit the Bodyart/Piercing FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, written by Anne Greenblatt of Piercing Exquisite. Keep in mind that the healing times shown on the Piercing FAQ page are estimates and can vary from person to person. Until a piercing has completely healed, a person needs to be very careful to prevent infection with HIV, other STDs, and various bacterial infections. After getting a piercing, it is important to carefully follow the instructions given to you regarding how to properly take care of your piercing. After the piercing has completely healed, as long as you take proper care of the piercing, the risks of infection with HIV and other infections would be low.

For information on genital piercings and safer sex, read the posting Genital body piercings and safer sex.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

16 year old HIV+ patient without risk factors
Licking Blood, "blood brothers" and similar types of exposures

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