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Tattoo Risks for HCV
  Currently, people who have received a tattoo, a piercing, or acupuncture in a non-sterile environment must wait a year before donating blood. As a result, about 100,000 people are turned away from donating each year, blood banks estimate.
The concern is that these people may have contracted viruses such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C through dirty needles or reused tattoo inks, and that these infections may be too recent to be picked up by blood screening. That worry has grown with the increased popularity of tattooing and piercing.
One study of New York state university students found that half had body piercings, and 23 percent had tattoos.
Miriam Alter, of the viral hepatitis division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites), told the committee that based on available studies, tattoo and piercing recipients are not at increased risk for viruses. CDC is recommending against a routine ban on donations from people with tattoos or body piercings.
Blood banks also said that new testing procedures now catch these viruses early in the infection process, which means contaminated blood can be discarded.
But panelists said there still is a risk of contamination.
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