Before you head to the tattoo parlor, you should know how long the AIDS virus can live in a tattoo needle.

Remember, tattoo parlors are not medical clinics, so don’t just automatically assume that the one you might be going to is sterile with strict anti-contamination practices.

“HIV can still be active in dried blood for up to six days, but the pH of the environment must be adequate to last that long,” says J. Mark Anderson, MD, DABFM, of Executive Medicine of Texas and who is board certified in family medicine.

“Tattoo parlors can be a place of transmission for AIDS and hepatitis,” continues Dr. Anderson.

“Since a tattoo punctures the skin and causes bleeding, both the tattoo needle and ink can become infected.

“Shared needles and shared ink can be a mode of transmission.

“If you are considering a tattoo, be sure to ask questions about how the parlor sterilizes needles or uses disposables.

“It’s equally important to inquire about the use and reuse of ink.”

Don’t be shy or feel that you will offend the tattooist. At the same time, anyone who wants your business isn’t going to tell you, “We don’t sterilize our needles.”

The best course of action is to gather the names of several parlors and call them with your questions if the idea of asking in person seems awkward.

Trust your gut and make your decision based on how the person over the phone responds to your questions about needle sterilization, disposables and just overall what they do to guard against the transmission of the AIDS virus.

Certainly, if you’re met with a less-than-professional response, you shouldn’t bring your business to that particular parlor.

If upon entering the parlor you don’t like the way it looks or it doesn’t seem clean or sterile — again – trust your gut and find another place to get a tattoo.

The AIDS virus is not to be taken lightly.

Dr. Anderson is coauthor of the award-winning book, “Stay Young: 10 Proven Steps to Ultimate Health,” and host of the nationally syndicated Staying Young Show which goes to podcast as Staying Young Show 2.0.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.