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Author Topic: Tattoo needles  (Read 2544 times)

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Offline Ivy

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Tattoo needles
« on: August 06, 2008, 11:04:25 PM »
Hi,

I've just started to wonder... My boyfriend with whom I've been together for a year now has a tattoo, a small pic on his wrist. The tattoo was made maybe two years ago by a non-professional, a friend of his. My boyfriend says this guy used disposable gloves and clean, new ink, but what worries me a bit is that the needles this so-called tattoo artist used were not new but the guy had probably worked with them on someone else as well (a couple of days? weeks? before my boyfriend had the tattoo made). The needles had been disinfected in some solution from the pharmacy by letting them soak in there for 20 mins. However, is that long enough to kill bugs like HIV, Hepatitis B and C? I suppose the needles were ordinary tattooing needles - that is, very sharp and not hollow.

This worries me quite a lot, and even though I know that only an HIV test can tell whether my boyfriend is infected or not, I'd like to know if there's a significant HIV risk in having a tattoo made outside of a regulated tattoo parlour?

I don't have any tattoos and I've never used IV drugs. I got tested for HIV more than a year ago and the result was negative so I definitely know what my status was prior to meeting my boyfriend. I'm looking forward to your answers! Thank you. 

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2008, 11:31:31 PM »
Hi Ivy,

Yes HIV has been known to be transmitted via contaminated tattoo needles, but this is very rare and. as far as I'm aware, restricted to non-professional artists.

I think the chances of your boyfriend having been infected with HIV by the non-professional inker is very unlikely, but he needs to be tested. If you've had unprotected anal or vaginal sex with him you need to be tested for HIV as well. Like I said, it's very unlikely that either of you have HIV.

Hepatitis B and C are a different matter. These viruses are much more common in the community (particularly the heterosexual community) and it's important that your boyfriend is tested for both Hepatitis B and C as a matter of priority. You should be tested for both as well.

If you and/or your boyfriend prove to be Hepatitis B negative  you should seek vaccination for this disease. There is no vaccine for HIV or for Hepatitis C.

MtD

Offline Ivy

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Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2008, 06:41:43 AM »
Hi matty.the.damned,

I guess there's no need to panic because of HIV then. Yes I've had unprotected sex with him... but only vaginal sex. I live in a country with a relatively low HIV rate (if that matters).  I've also heard that hep C isn't easily contracted through sex, is that true? So maybe hep B would be more likely in our case.

I take medicine that might cause a high liver count, and because of that I must have regular blood tests. I just had  a test yesterday, I called for the results today and they were ok. I guess these blood tests would show any abnormalities in my liver, but I'll also ask a doctor how to get these hepatitis tests done. I told my boyfriend to get an HIV test and he promised to do it. I'll get one as well, just in case, and I definitely won't have unprotected sex with him anymore (well actually we're breaking up, but that's a totally different matter...).

Thanks a lot for your answer, Matty!

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2008, 06:50:39 AM »
Ivy,

I think you should have a full sexual health screen. A full screen will include testing for gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia and other  infections which are much more common and easily transmitted than HIV. Nevertheless it's  important that you have HIV antibody test 13 weeks from the date of your last unprotected vaginal or anal sex with your partner and that will be part of the full screen as well.

Just because HIV prevalence is low in your country, doesn't mean you haven't been exposed. HIV/AIDS is about as serious as diseases get so it's vital that you don't go on guesses and assumptions. Get tested and be sure.

Hepatitis C is very rarely transmitted through sexual contact as it's a  strictly blood borne pathogen, unlike HIV which is found in other bodily fluids. Still it can't hurt to be tested for that as well. Hepatitis B testing should be included as part of the full sexual health screen. If it isn't ask about it. If you're Hepatitis B negative, you should be vaccinated as soon as possible.

Be well,

MtD

Offline Ivy

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  • Posts: 8
Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2008, 04:36:33 PM »
Thanks for your friendly and informative posts. My boyfriend promised to get an HIV test as soon as possible, I guess that'll be next week. Whatever his result will be, I'll get myself tested as well in three months, just in case. I have to admit that I'm really worried - you said that HIV is unlikely in our case, but I want to hear a health worker say out loud that I'm 100 % negative so I can move on.

The window period for HIV is 3 months = 13 weeks, but how about Hepatitis? When can I have Hep B and C tests done - should I wait for 3 or 6 months?

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2008, 04:41:50 PM »
Hepatitis C has a window period of 6 months and Hepatitis B has a window period of 45 - 180 days, so about the time you tested for HIV is probably the right time to be tested for Hepatitis B.

MtD

Offline Ivy

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Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2008, 04:48:42 PM »
Okay, thanks for the information.

Offline Ivy

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Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2008, 01:13:20 PM »
Hi again,

I was panicing so my boyfriend called this guy who made the tattoo. The inker said that he had used NEW NEEDLES - he said he always does that! Also, he said that he always pours the ink into a separate dish which he then disposes of. So, I guess the chances for HIV in this case are pretty much zero... I don't have to panic about this. HOWEVER, personally I think it's somewhat irresponsible to make tattoos at your home (or to trust an inker like that) - after all, the guy is no professional!!! Even if there's no risk for blood-borne viruses, there's always a chance of infection on the skin or blood poisoning (?). I suppose that a real professional can do everything in a more hygienic manner.

Anyway, I'll go and have all those tests that you recommended! I want to know for sure. I also want to be able to donate blood one day.

I'm very responsible, aren't I  :P

Thanks a lot for the answers, you guys are doing great work. I'll contact some Finnish organisation and ask them how to become a voluntary HIV advisor.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2008, 01:16:58 PM by Ivy »

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2008, 01:18:47 AM »
That's right babe.

Even though the inker probably does what he says he does, you shouldn't take him at his word. This stuff is too serious to be taking people at their word.

And you're right you only use professional, accredited inkers and piercers for this sort of work. You can be sure that they've been inspected and certified by the relevant health authorities and are required to meet basic standards regarding universal cross infection procedure.

Be well,

MtD

Offline Ivy

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  • Posts: 8
Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2008, 10:15:43 AM »
An update:

Had some tests taken yesterday - HIV, hepatitis B, chlamydia. I'll get the results next week I think. I guess I'll have other tests later on, hep C and stuff. (Btw I also had my liver rate checked, because I'm on valproate. They say my liver is fine. Also my blood count and Hgb were pretty good, even though my diet tends to be quite crappy, hehehe.)

I have some questions about HIV testing: what's the "code" for a standard HIV antibody test - is that something like S-HIVab? And S-HIVabag is a combo test (antibodies + antigen)? Just to make sure I understood everything right. An antigen test, on the other hand, is that called P24 test? I've understood that's pretty expensive and used only when the possible infection is still "fresh". Does a code S-HIVag even exist?!

Okay, I don't know if anyone's reading this but I'll inform you folks about my results. Greetings from Northern Europe.

Offline Ann

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    • Num is sum qui mentiar tibi?
Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2008, 10:31:05 AM »
Ivy,

Codes for tests will vary from lab to lab. You'll have to ask the lab where your test is sent.

Many of today's hiv tests include the p24 test. You don't need one that does. Just ask for hiv antibody testing - I'm sure whatever clinic or testing center you go to will know what you mean and what to do. It's a common test.

If you have further questions about the tests, see our Testing Lesson. All you need to know is there.

Ann
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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline Ivy

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  • Posts: 8
Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2008, 10:50:50 AM »
Thank you, Ann. Yes I read the testing lesson. I guess my test is a usual antibody test, but I'll ask them. I had several tests done and I saw lots of strange "codes" on the lab person's computer so I'm just curious to know what the letters or numbers mean. (And the codes don't matter, as long as they do the right tests.) :)
« Last Edit: December 17, 2008, 11:01:25 AM by Ivy »

Offline Ivy

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  • Posts: 8
Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2008, 07:49:42 AM »
My results:

Chlamydia - negative.
Hepatitis B - negative.
HIV - negative.

Happy New Year everyone.

Offline anniebc

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  • Posts: 5,939
  • AM member since 2003
Re: Tattoo needles
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2008, 05:20:15 PM »
Good news Ivy.

Maybe your next tattoo should read "Matty and Ann are awesome".. ;)

Happy New Year.

Jan
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