How likely is it to get Hep A,B,C and HIV from a tattoo?

Question

I recently got a tattoo in a shop that has recently been closed due to unsanitary conditions and unsterilized equipment. Health board is now asking everyone who got a tattoo there to come forward for testing of HEP A,B, C and HIV. I got my blood work done yesterday, and I am sitting here terrified of the results. How likely is it I could have contracting one or all of these diseases from my stupid mistake one night?

Answer

Hi,

How likely is it? Unfortunately there is no way I can specifically quantitate the probability of HIV transmission in situations like this. There are too many potentially confounding variables to consider. (For instance, did you get a tasteful triceps tattoo that reads "I Love Dr. Bob" or did you become the "illustrated man" covering every available centimeter of skin with ink, like that cute guy on the TV show Prison Break?) The bottom line here is that your local health department has determined there is at least enough of a potential risk that clients should be screened for HIV and hepatitis. You've had your blood drawn. So now all you can do is wait.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob