I would like to quote something I read on the Hepatitis C website:
Comments: hi, my name’s kym and i’m 17 years old. i’ve just recently had a blood test for STDs, HIV and hepatitis. everything came back negative except for hep C in my liver. now the doctor told me (over the phone when i called for results) that it is passed through blood, for eg. drug usage etc. but i have never used drugs before and the only thing that i can think of is my tattoo or body piercings. i’m totally freaked out, i can’t believe this is happening to me. i’d like to know if anyone is reading this can you pls email telling me the ‘process’ of what happens after being diagnosed. if i was to give it to someone else, how would that happen? i’d really appreciate a reply from someone who has hep C or knows someone who has it. i’m so scared…”
Everyone in the tattoo business knows about sterilizing needles nowadays. What you have to watch for is whether the tattoo artist uses a single common jar of ink (central reservoir) for all tattoos. Many good artists aren’t entirely clear on the rules of sterile technique. If your artist tattoos someone before you who has hep C, the needle picks up the virus as it passes across the skin, and if the needle is dipped back into a common jar, the virions go floating into the ink. The same is true of AIDS, but the AIDS virus is much harder to catch than the hepatitis viruses. Hepatitis is much more virulent on a per-virion basis.
The fact that you can catch hepatitis from the central ink reservoir, and may not have symptoms or a detectable blood test for months or years, but still be infectious, is why nobody who has a tattoo can give blood, ever again.
I don’t have tattoos. My best friend, who is also a doctor, has four.
Hepatitis C is too high a price.