Know Your Risk of Infection

Newark, NJ – Body art has grown in popularity since the 90s although people have been decorating their bodies for thousands of years. The body is used as a canvas to display tattoos, piercings, brandings, cuttings, and permanent cosmetics on a person’s skin. Today, body art has become part of mainstream culture from young teens through seniors.

Whatever form of body art you may be considering, know that there are safety and health issues to consider. Anytime instruments are used to break the skin (one of the body’s foremost defense/barrier against infection), you increase your risk for contracting HIV or the hepatitis virus (hep B or C).  Remember, these instruments come in contact with blood, skin or other bodily fluids during the process.

While one can never remove the risk entirely, it can be greatly reduced by using a licensed artist or piercer who strictly follows proper safety precautions during all procedures as well as maintains a sterile work environment at all times. Although it is tempting to save money by just letting a friend, relative or amateur artist/piercer do it for you, it’s not safe! Many times these individuals do not take the full precautions to protect you from contracting blood diseases.

Follow the safety guidelines below when considering getting body art

  • Tattoo or body piercing should be done by a licensed tattoo artist or body piercer in a professional setting where proper safety precautions are followed. 
  • Needles or other instruments that penetrate the skin should be in sterile packages and opened only prior to use, then used once and discarded in a biohazard container. This includes razors if they must be used to shave hair from area to be tattooed or pierced.  Have artist or piercer open all packages in front of you.
  • All reusable instruments must be disinfected and sterilized.
  • A new pair of latex gloves must be used for each client.
  • The working area must be neat and clean and sterilized after each customer.
  • A new container of sterile ink must be used for each client.
  • Educate yourself about how blood diseases are transmitted and what precautions should be taken to prevent transmissions in these types of settings.

The risk of HIV and hepatitis must be taken seriously.  It is recommended that individuals at risk be tested for hepatitis and HIV.  Testing, diagnosis, and treatment are the best ways to help protect others from being infected.  If you are looking to find a free, state-funded testing site near you for initial testing or follow-up or have questions about HIV/AIDS, STDs, or hepatitis, contact us either by calling 800-624-2377, text/email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or chat via our site at We are here to help.

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As of July 1, 2013, New Jersey Medical School will become part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey