There has not been any confirmed cases of someone getting HIV from a tattoo.
A tattoo artist is more at risk of getting a bloodborne disease.
It is harder to contract the HIV and/or AIDS virus while getting a tattoo than dealing with a syringe at a hospital. Syringe needles are hollow allowing blood to be trapped in the needle where as a tattoo needle is solid so blood has no place to get trapped.
You have a better chance of getting Hepatitis B from the dentist office than a tattoo shop. The Center for Disease Control shows that there have been more infections of Hepatitis B from dentists offices than tattoo shops.
Please do not take this the wrong way, I am not saying that every tattoo shop is as professional as the next, but most of them are more sterile than a typical doctors office. The same way you have bad doctors who are looking to make a dollar there are bad tattooists out there doing the same. At least you can go into a shop and check it out and see what kind of work the artist does and how clean they are before you decide to let them tattoo you. Many tattoo artist belong to A.P.T.(Alliance of Professional Tattooists), A.P.T. is a nonprofit educational organization that was founded in 1992 to address the health and safety issues facing the tattoo industry and holds seminars all over the country educating tattoo artists. So next time you see an article about how tattoo shops spread disease and should be closed down you can say to yourself, "Why don't you check out the facts first."
To ensure your safety check for some to the things below.
Make sure the front shop is neat and clean, this is usually a pretty good indication of how clean the rest of the shop is.
Ask questions about the shops safety procedures. Example: "What is your shop doing to ensure my health and well-being?" The personnel should be more than willing and able to answer your questions.
When getting your tattoo you should notice some the things listed below.
All equipment should be single service, this means that each needle and tube set is individually packaged, dated, sealed and autoclaved. The artist should open a fresh set of needles and tubes in front of you and any ointments, pigments, needles, gloves, razors, plastic trays or containers used in applying your new tattoo should be discarded after use. After the tattoo application the artist will disinfect the work area to kill any surface bacteria or viruses.
The artist should be wearing gloves at all times and if broke they should change their gloves immediately. This protects both you and the artist from any bloodborne pathogens that may be present.
An autoclave is the only acceptable means of equipment sterilization in the tattoo shop. It is a machine that uses a combination of heat, steam and pressure to kill all microorganisms known to man. If the shop does not use an autoclave, do not get tattooed there.
HIV and its Transmission
Alliance of Professional Tattooists