Blood-Borne Virus Risks With Tattoos and Piercings

Tattoos and body piercing involve piercing the skin and coming into contact with blood which puts you and others at risk of contracting a blood-borne virus.  To prevent this, these practices must be performed using sterile equipment in a sterile environment.

Use a registered business

Professional tattooing and piercing businesses must be registered with their local council and because their services involve blood they have to follow standard infection control practices in line with the Public Health Act 1997.

Registered tattooists and body piercers should wash their hands, wear gloves, use sterilised equipment, clean surfaces and use single-use equipment.

It is recommended that to avoid BBVs and other infections you always use a professional and registered tattooist and avoid having non-professional tattoos done.

The Department of Health Tasmania provide comprehensive guidelines for tattooing here and ear and body piercing here.

Tips for tattooing or body piercing

If you are involved in body piercing or tattooing, always ensure that any instrument that pierces the skin is either ‘single use’ or has been cleaned, disinfected and sterilised since it was last used.

For example, where procedures involving penetration of the skin are not performed correctly, they can be the means of transmitting blood-borne viruses and skin infections caused by common bacteria such as staphylococcus.

The person at risk may be not only the next client that receives treatment with the contaminated instrument, but also, the operator, if the operator accidentally penetrates their skin with the contaminated instrument. Contact with infected blood, body substances or contaminated instruments on open cuts, sores, broken skin or mucous membranes can also lead to contracting blood-borne viruses.

Contact the BBVAware Program