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Old 18-02-2011, 11:14 PM   #1
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Default HIV Delicate Subject. Opinions Please.

Whilst tattooing a client, our shop assistant brought a design in to be priced up for another prospective customer, and also told me he had admitted he was HIV positive. Here's the dilemma:
Although I know our level of hygiene is very high, and that if I tattoo him, neither myself nor any of my future clients would be in any danger of contracting the virus, my first reaction however, was that it would unfortunately be bad for business, because I don't think the general public are necessarily as educated on the subject as myself, and anybody else in the business of health and hygiene. I really feel for the guy, but as far as I'm concerned, business is business. I also think that although we have to 'assume' all clients could be infected in some way, I still think that 'knowingly' tattooing an infected person would affect future clients' decisions to come and get tattooed in our studio if it had become common knowledge, because bad news travels a lot faster than good.
My colleague however thinks that tattooing somebody who is known to have HIV would be good for business, because it would show that we are confident with our level of hygiene and would not affect people's decision.

So if any artists are brave enough to comment on this very delicate issue, your input would be very much appreciated.

And the burning question to any tattoo fans out there would be...

Would you prefer to go to a studio that 'knowingly' tattoos people living with HIV/Hepititus etc, or a studio who refuses to?

PS. I have remained anonymous for the sake of the other members of staff in our studio, as they are not members of this forum nor do they wish to be, and people on here who know me may know the other artist in question. Thanks.
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Old 18-02-2011, 11:56 PM   #2
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I'm not a tattoo artist, but I can give you a "punters" point of view.

I would probably feel uncomftable being tattooed in a studio that tattooed someone with a blood virus.

A lot of blood can escape from a persons body while being tattooed. That could potentially find it's way into somone elses vicinity.

All the best precautions in the world can be taken and accidents still happen...

Like you said word of mouth is bad for business when a negative rumour starts up.

I am very uneducated on HIV and other blood related viruses. So am probably like 99% of the public with irrational fears regarding HIV.

Also when you get tattooed they ask you if you have HIV, etc... Nothing to stop you lying or not being aware that you have the illness in the first place, so a lot of respect to the person to admiting it!
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Old 19-02-2011, 05:59 PM   #3
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Thanks for your comment Andy, this is what I've been trying to say. I wouldn't say it's 99% of the general public who are ignorant to the facts about HIV, but definitely a strong majority. I've asked some of my clients about this too, and they've all said the same. Had they heard we'd happily tattooed someone with a serious bloodborn virus/disease, and didn't know about the hygiene side of things, they would never consider coming to the studio.

I'd still be very interested to see the opinions of other artists on this thread, and if they have to make up an anonymous account to do so then please go for it. I totally understand the sensitivity of this subject and the implications any comments could have on individuals, so please sign in anonymously if need be.
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Old 19-02-2011, 06:18 PM   #4
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Why should any other customers need to know anything about other people you tattoo? And how would they find this out?

As far as I'm aware you should be treating every-one as though they have HIV as then you are always protecting every-one involved.

I know the internet can have it's faults, but using this link How Long Does the AIDS Virus Live in the Air? | eHow.com

I found....

According to the John Hopkins Center for Clinical Global Health Education, HIV lives for an average of 30 seconds to one minute once it is exposed to air.


It should be noted that no form of HIV is airborne, and so the virus cannot be contracted through coughing or sneezing.

So there should be no risk to any future customers.
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Old 19-02-2011, 06:32 PM   #5
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Hi monkeychick, firstly, as I mentioned in the first post, we do treat everybody as potentially infected. That goes without saying, and the highest standards of hygiene are met in our studio continuously, and thanks for the links, I'm sure they'll be very helpful for anyone out there who wants to learn more, but the issue is that if this client is tattooed, there's nothing to say that he's going to keep it a secret, and he shouldn't have to, but if people find out, is it going to affect their decision in getting tattooed in this studio? As mentioned before, bad news travels much faster than good, and not many people out there are as educated on the subject as we would like them to be.
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Old 19-02-2011, 06:48 PM   #6
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If I heard of a shop refusing a customer because of their HIV status I wouldn't grace it with my custom.

If I heard a hospital was refusing to treat people with specific illnesses, I wouldn't go there either.

It goes both ways.
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Old 19-02-2011, 07:02 PM   #7
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I kind of appreciate the conundrum, but I would not be keen to go to a shop that refused someone on the basis of their having HIV.

Furthermore, if the general public were to believe that HIV+ people were being turned away, what is to stop prospective HIV+ clients simply not giving this information? Isn't that worse for everyone?

Wouldn't you rather be working and living in an environment where people were free to give this information and be treated with maturity and respect?

It might then mean there is less need "to 'assume' all clients could be infected in some way" (though this is by no means a bad assumption to make).
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Old 20-02-2011, 09:21 AM   #8
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Let me throw a curve ball in. Do you ask a dentist if they refuse patients with a blood disease. They reuse more equipment than any other profession I know. I am fussy about dentistry, and I get checked out in Lithuania when seeing the in laws. Only cos I can see the autoclave from my chair and all the tools come out of steaming hot steri packs in front of my eyes.

The medical profession in the UK are pretty hot on infection control nowadays. Hospitals and Doctors are required to dump almost everything into the hygiene bins. Whilst talking to a GP practice manager at a building job I did, she told me they even dispose of speculums and other heavy ass pieces of equipment nowadays.
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Old 20-02-2011, 10:06 AM   #9
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I can understand people being nervous if a studio is tattooing people with HIV but as has been said it is due to a lack of education in this area. People would far rather bury their heads and avoid...

I consider myself relatively intelligent and informed and it would still make me a little nervous and I would need to satisfy myself that the studio were following correct hygiene practice. And this is from someone who has felt the need to have a test in the past ( don't hold it against me ). It certainly wouldn't stop me going there but I do think some would be put off.

I suppose there are 2 questions that need to be answered. How to we educate Joe public but secondly for confidentiality reasons, do they really need to know?
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Old 20-02-2011, 10:18 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by PaulaHK View Post
If I heard of a shop refusing a customer because of their HIV status I wouldn't grace it with my custom.

From a hygiene standpoint, it makes no difference.

From a business perspective...how is the information that a HIV+ customer got tattooed going to spread to the point it will affect business? Are they going to arrive in a parade down the street for all the public to see? I'm unsure how it would become common knowledge?

Also, a lot of the public, are stupid.
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