Increased prevalence of transfusiontransmitted diseases among people with tattoos: A systematic review and metaanalysis

Sung Ha Lim, Solam Lee, Young Bin Lee, Chung Hyeok Lee, Jong Won Lee, Sang Hoon Lee, Ju Yeong Lee, Joung Soo Kim, Mi Youn Park, Sang Baek Koh, Eung Ho Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0262990
JournalPloS one
Issue number1 January
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jan

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Lim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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