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Dec 2, 2001

ryan, i realize that your not a doctor or scientist but i am hoping you have an answer i am wondering about the transmission of hiv through a tattoo needle. about a month ago i was giving myself a tattoo with my friends gun. the needle had been used before but i think he had cleaned it. i know stupid move but the needle hadnt been used in quite some time. so heres my question how long can hiv and hepititus survive on a tattoo needle stored in a dry enviroment.

Response from Mr. Kull

HIV does not survive in the environment very long, and probably not long enough to lead to transmission in your case (that is, if your friend was infected). Excluding the use of needles with hollow bores (used primarily for injection drugs), HIV is not known to be transmitted through contact with inanimate objects. Scientists in laboratories are only able to keep HIV alive under very specific circumstances. Scientists found that drying fluids containing very high concentrations of HIV(concentrations that are not normally encountered in day-to-day life) reduced the number of infectious virus by 90% to 99%. It is safe to say, based on these laboratory studies, that HIV would become uninfectious realitively quickly when exposed to the environment, making transmission through indirect contact with another person's fluids remote.

See "Survival of HIV in the Environment" for more information (

There is no evidence that HIV has ever been transmitted through the process of tattooing in tattoo parlors. There is no evidence that transmission has occurred outside of tatto parlors either, but it is probably safer to rely on an establishment that uses universal precautions to sterilize their equipment.


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