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Alliance of Professional Tattooist

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The last ten years have seen an educational renaissance within the tattoo industry. Artists have become increasingly aware of the potentional risks associated with bloodborne pathogens and have taken steps to protect their clients and themselves.With little education and some research, you can assure yourself of a safe, professional tattoo.


HIV is a very delicate virus and does not survive long outside the human body. Nor is it spread through casual contact. Generally, the virus is only transmitted when sufficient quantities of highly infected blood are intorduced into the body of another. The structure of tattoo needles does not lend itself to HIV transmission. According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, there has never been a case of HIV transmission from tattooing in the United States. Cases outside the US were not positively attributed to tattooing because all reported cases also fit in the profile of a "high risk" lifestyle.


The disease to consider when getting tattooed is heatitis. Hepatitis, unlike HIV, is a very hardy virus that can survive long periods outside the human body and can be transmitted through little more than a scratch with an infected needle.To pathogen, artists autoclave their single service equipment, use individual portions of ink and lubricant, dispose of used sharps according to OSHA guidelines, use EPA registered virucidals to clean their stations between clients, and use barrier protection. These procedures are called Standard Precautions. Basically, the artist must treat everyone (including themselves) as though they were infectious. That way, everyone is protected and the potential for infection is reduce to next to nothing.


Your artist should be wearing gloves any time they are touching broken skin and should change their gloves frequently. This protects both you and the artist from any bloodborne pathogens that may be present.


An autoclave is the only acceptable means of equipment sterillization in the tattoo shop. It's a machine that uses a combination of heat, steam and pressure to kill all the pathogenic microorganisms known to man. If the shop does not use an autoclave, do not get tattooed there. Shops should keep regular records of their autoclave use and testing. Ask to see them if you feel uncertain.


APT admits artists based on their desire to educate themselves in a safe tattoo procedure rather than artistic merit. For that reason,we do not recommend specific artists. Not to mention, there are a number of excellent artists who,for whatever reason, have NOT joined APT. While we would like you to patronize one of our artists,it would be a shame to pass up an excellent artists simply because they did'nt belong to our organization. You can still assure yourself that you're in good hands by following a few simple guidelines.

Your concerns are twofold. You need to find an artist who's work you like, who will work on you safely. Ask people how they got tattooed, especially if you really like the work you see. Ask to see photographs of the artist work. Most often, the pictures will have been taken right after the work was completed, so redness and swelling are common. In spite of that , they're are things you can learn. Are the lines clean and smooth or broken and jagged? Do they meet up? Does the artist work in the style you're looking for? Taking time to check out a few artists and shops will ensure that you're happy with your results.


Make sure the shop is neat and clean. What you see in the front room is a pretty good indication of what you will see elsewhere in the shop. Ask questions about the shop's safety procedures. What are they doing to insure your health and well being? The personel should be willing and able to answer your questions. If you feel they are brushing your conserns aside or can't answer you, leave and seek out a *professional* shop.


All equipment should be single service . This means that each needle and tube set is individually packaged, dated and sealed and autoclaved. The artist should open a fresh set of needles and tubes in front of you. Any ointments , pigments, needles, gloves, razors, plastic trays, or containers used in applying your new tattoo are discarded after use, after the tattoo application, the artist will disinfect the work area with an EPA approved viruscide that will kill any surface bacteria or viruses.

Facts And Questions

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