VARANASI: Doctors at the Varanasi district hospital have come across at least two patients who have tested positive for HIV in the past two months after getting tattoos on their bodies.
Office of the chief medical officer (CMO), Varanasi, has confirmed that the two patients undergoing treatment at the district hospital have claimed that they neither had blood transfusion or indulged in any unprotected sexual intercourse, but tested positive after getting tattoos.
Twenty-year-old Jayant (name changed), a resident of Baragaon area of the district, got his hand tattooed at a fair held in the village. After a few months, his health started deteriorating. He had a high fever and became weak. Even after all the treatments, he did not get any relief, so the doctors got him tested for HIV. After investigation, he was tested positive. But Jayant was not convinced that the report was correct. He told the doctor that he was not married yet, nor did he have any physical relationship with anyone and never went for blood transfusion. The doctors then found out about his tattoo and explained to him that this was the reason.
Something similar happened with a young woman, Shefali (name changed), from Nagwan locality. She got the tattoo done by a hawker. After a few days, her condition started deteriorating. After a pathological examination it was found that she was HIV positive.
Dr Preeti Agarwal, senior doctor of antiretroviral treatment (ART) center at Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, said that the two had no idea about the main cause of HIV infection. “Neither they had unprotected sex nor were they transfused with infected blood. When they were counseled at the centre, it came to the fore that they started experiencing health problems after getting tattooed,” Dr Agarwal said.
She said that the root cause of the problem is the use of infected needles during tattooing. Actually, the needle with which the tattoo is made is very expensive. Normally, after getting a tattoo, the needle should be destroyed. But in order to earn more, tattoo-makers use the same needle on multiple people. “However, people getting tattoos are unaware of this danger. They do not even see whether the tattoo-maker has put a new needle in the machine. In such a situation, if an HIV-infected person gets tattooed with that needle, then there is every risk of others getting HIV infection by the use of the same needle,” she added.
Dr. Agarwal said that proper care should be taken before getting a tattoo. In order to save money, getting a tattoo done at a fair or from a hawker can be disastrous. “Before getting a tattoo, it must be seen whether a new needle has been put in the machine or not. People who have recently got tattoos should get the HIV test done, so that they can start treatment immediately,” she suggested.