Tattooing: refusing to tattoo people living with HIV is illegal discrimination, new statement confirms.


  • Jo Whelan
  • Medical News
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Refusing to tattoo or to provide a cosmetic or routine beauty treatment on the basis of HIV status is illegal under the Equality Act 2010, according to a joint statement from leading UK HIV organisations. HIV falls under the category of disability, which is a protected characteristic under the Act.

The statement follows reports that some providers of these services have discriminated against people with HIV.

HIV and HIV treatment are not contraindications to tattooing, piercing or cosmetic procedures, and it is therefore not necessary for providers of these services to collect information on HIV status, the statement continues. Under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation 2018, collecting information on HIV status must be justifiable.

Providers should implement universal precautions with all clients, as required under their licensing conditions. These precautions treat each client as though they may have an undiagnosed blood-borne virus.

Cosmetic surgery is subject to standard sterilisation precautions to prevent transmission of bloodborne infections. As with any surgery, a full medical history should be taken to ensure patient safety. Cosmetic surgeons in the UK and around the world regularly operate on HIV-positive patients, the statement notes.

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