Q. After receiving tattoo, should I be concerned about HIV infection?

Answered by
Dr. Jyotisterna Mittal
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Aug 18, 2016 and last reviewed on: Jul 31, 2019

Hi doctor,

I received a tattoo recently. The artist used a new needle, a new tune and a new ink pot. The ink was poured directly into the ink pot from a larger bottle, and he throws the ink out after each tattoo. He did not clean the gun grip. He did clean my arm before the tattoo was applied and again when he was finished, along with various points throughout the tattoo. He did have me lay down on a sheet which he washes between clients. He continuously applied Vaseline to my skin throughout the tattoo, which had already been used for another client. From any of the above, is there a risk for HIV? Even though the needle was new, is there any chance of infection from the gun grip or Vaseline or even anywhere else in the process? Around 4 days later, I had extreme fatigue, nasal congestion, muscle aches and weakness in my lower legs. After 9 days, the fatigue went away, but the nasal congestion and muscle ache stayed. After 15 days, the muscle aches switched to the upper portion of my legs and I started getting pain in my neck. At the time, I had on and off sore throat and headache. I have not had any fever. Is there any reason to be concerned over a possible HIV infection here? My mono test and CBC came back normal after 20 days. I have been very stressed and worried. I really appreciate any advice on this matter. Thank you so much for your time and help.

Dr. Jyotisterna Mittal

Cosmetology Dermatology HIV/AIDS Specialist Venereology


Welcome to icliniq.com.

 I have read your query in detail and do understand your concern.

  • The conditions you have mentioned are not the risk factors for acquiring an HIV infection.
  • The risk is there only if a drop of some HIV positive person's blood from the gun was transferred directly into your skin while tattooing.
  • Even then, there is 3/1000 chances of you getting HIV from that drop of blood. So, the probability of this happening is almost negligible.
  • Though HIV testing is not needed in your case, but to relieve yourself from the associated anxiety, you may get an ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) for HIV test done after 12 weeks of possible exposure.
  • The symptoms you have described are non-specific symptoms, which can also be seen without any underlying cause and not indicative of HIV infection.

For further doubts consult a HIV AIDS specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/HIV-AIDS-specialist

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