Tattooing and Piercing | Regional HIV/AIDS Connection

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Tattooing and Piercing

Sharing tattoo or body-piercing equipment are two activities that put you at high risk for getting HIV or Hepatitis C.

The needles, equipment and ink can be contaminated with blood that contains HIV or Hepatitis C virus that can be passed into your blood stream. This may happen in places and situations where proper sterilization techniques or single-use equipment are not available or cannot be used.

Selecting where to get a tattoo or piercing

Here are some tips to help you make safe and informed decisions about where and how to get a tattoo or piercing:

  • Check out many different artists. Is the artist a professional? If the artist is not a professional, your chances of getting poor work done, as well as getting infections and viruses’ increases.
  • “Everything New, Every Time.” The artist should use new needles, ink, ink pots, jewelry, and tattooing stencils; basically everything that cannot be properly sterilized.
  • Ask questions and don't be afraid to walk out! A good artist will always be comfortable answering anything you have to ask such as: “How many years have you been tattooing/piercing for?”, “Where did you apprentice”, “May I see your portfolio?”, “Do you use new needles/ink/jewelry/gloves/razors/etc. every time?”
  • Look for: Health Board Inspection Certificate, clean and tidy work area, an autoclave to properly sterilize the permanent equipment, biohazard containers to throw away used needles and other pieces of equipment that are exposed to bodily fluids.
  • Piercing guns cannot be properly sterilized because they are made of plastic. Do not allow yourself to be pierced with a piercing gun.