Increased prevalence of transfusion-transmitted diseases among people with tattoos: A systematic review and meta-analysis


Whether having a tattoo increases the risk of transfusion-transmitted diseases (TTDs) is controversial. Although a few studies have suggested a strong association between having tattoos and TTDs, other studies have not shown the significance of the association. In addition, previous studies mainly focused only on hepatitis C viral infections. The objective of our study was to identify the prevalence and risk of TTDs in people with tattoos as compared with the non-tattooed population. A systematic review of the studies published before January 22, 2021, was performed using the Pubmed, Embase, and Web of Science databases. Observational studies on hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and syphilis infections in people with and without tattoos were included. Studies that reported disease status without serological confirmation were excluded. A total of 121 studies were quantitatively analyzed. HCV (odds ratio [OR], 2.37; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.04–2.76), HBV (OR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.31–1.83), and HIV infections (OR, 3.55; 95% CI, 2.34–5.39) were more prevalent in the tattooed population. In subgroup analyses, the prevalence of HCV infection was significantly elevated in the general population, hospital patient, blood donor, intravenous (IV) drug user, and prisoner groups. IV drug users and prisoners showed high prevalence rates of HBV infection. The prevalence of HIV infection was significantly increased in the general population and prisoner groups. Having a tattoo is associated with an increased prevalence of TTDs. Our approach clarifies in-depth and supports a guideline for TTD screening in the tattooed population.


Lim SH, Lee S, Lee YB, Lee CH, Lee JW, Lee SH, Lee JY, Kim JS, Park MY, Koh SB, Choi EH




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV- population
    • Other
  • Co-infections
    • Hepatitis B, C


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