• Hepatitis B
  • Disease Issues

More of my patients are getting tattoos and body piercings. Should they be concerned about contracting a bloodborne infection like HBV?

Yes. Even though tattooing and body piercing are not thought to be a significant mode of transmission for HBV, tattooing and body piercing have the potential to transmit bloodborne infections, including HBV, hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), if the person doing the tattoos or body piercing does not use good infection control practices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that instruments or materials (including ink), intended to penetrate the skin be used once, then disposed of or thoroughly cleaned and sterilized between clients. Personal service workers who do tattooing or body piercing should be educated about the transmission of bloodborne pathogens and what precautions are needed to prevent transmission.

People considering getting a tattoo or having a body part pierced should ask staff at the establishment what procedures they use to prevent the spread of bloodborne infections. They also might call the local health department to find out what sterilization procedures are required by law or ordinance for tattooing and body piercing establishments.

Last reviewed: July 21, 2023

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