How is hep C transmitted while tattooing?


Hep C is passed on through blood-to-blood contact. This happens when the blood of someone with hep C gets into someone else’s blood stream. If a tattoo artist doesn’t keep everything sterile and clean, there can be a risk for hep C. 

The risk for hep C is higher if you get a tattoo in prison. This is because there are more people inside with hep C and it’s harder to keep tattooing equipment sterile.


Can you get hep C from tattoo ink?


You can get hep C from tattoo ink if the tattoo artist doesn’t use small separate containers of tattoo ink for each client. If they dip the needle into one big container that they’ve used on other clients, there is a high risk of blood (from a past client) coming into contact with your blood.


What are the risks of tattooing through backyard operators?


Backyard tattooists might not be following all the proper infection control procedures. They might not use new gloves for every person, sterile equipment and surfaces, or use new, small, sterile ink containers.

Backyard operators can be a lot cheaper than registered tattoo artists, but the risk for hep C is much higher.


How to choose a safe tattooist?


When choosing a tattoo artist, look for a certificate of registration from the local Council – it should be displayed in the shop.

The NSW Public Health Act requires tattooists and piercers to register their business address with their Local Government Authority (local council) and to comply with the Skin Penetration Guidelines (part of the NSW Public Health Act).


If I already have a tattoo, could I have hep C and not know it?


If you already have a tattoo and you’re not sure if the operator followed proper infection control procedures, it’s possible that you could have been exposed to hep C.

Ask your doctor for a hep C test or call the Hepatitis Infoline if you want to talk to anyone about hep C and testing.

Contact the Hepatitis Infoline for more information about tattooing and hep C or read our tattooing and piercing factsheet

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