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Can You Get HIV From a Tattoo or Body Piercing?

hiv tattoo

A tattoo is a form of body art. Since its introduction, it has become popular with millions of individuals, particularly teens. Their safety is a big question with the rising trend of tattoos and body piercing in different age groups. Many individuals wonder if this form of body art can put them at risk of acquiring bloodborne infections, including HIV.

How are tattoos done?

Skin puncturing and injecting ink into the person’s dermis is the process that a tattoo follows. It uses a machine containing needles to penetrate the skin and make the design.

On the other hand, body piercing only requires a single needle for the entire process.

Any of these processes can cause the skin to break. It is where infections enter the body or transmit from one customer to another if the needle is contaminated. That is why it is essential for the tattoo/piercing artist to use a fresh needle every time.

When is the transmission likely to happen?

Transmission of the virus is more likely to happen under the following circumstances:

  • The viral load of a person undergoing a tattoo session is high
  • Too much bleeding on the equipment while skin puncture
  • Unsanitary or contaminated tattoo equipment

Given the factors above, your chances of acquiring HIV are slim if you and your tattoo artist take the proper measures. However, you are still at risk of getting other infections, if not HIV. One of these infections includes hepatitis, which is the number one infection people can get due to using contaminated needles.

What can you do to prevent infections during or after getting a tattoo?

  • Always ensure the credibility of the tattoo parlor and its license to operate.
  • Ensure the equipment used are sanitary and sterilized.
  • Ask your tattoo artist if they disinfect the equipment.
  • After the procedure, follow precautionary measures to ensure your safety while your wounds are healing.


Before getting a tattoo or body piercing, ask the parlor or artist about the methods they follow to prevent any infection. Do not forget to inquire about the artists’ license to perform the said body art.

Following safety measures will help you avoid acquiring any disease or infection.

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