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Int J Infect Dis. 2010 Nov;14(11):e928-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2010.03.019. Epub 2010 Aug 3.

Tattooing and the risk of transmission of hepatitis C: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Community Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



In this systematic literature review we sought to determine whether tattooing is a risk factor for the transmission of hepatitis C.


A comprehensive search was performed to identify all case-control, cohort or cross sectional studies published prior to November 2008 that evaluated risks related to tattooing or risk factors of transmission of hepatitis C infection.


A total of 124 studies were included in this systematic review, of which 83 were included in the meta-analysis. The pooled odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of the association of tattooing and hepatitis C from all studies was 2.74 (2.38-3.15). In a subgroup analysis we found the strongest association between tattooing and risk of hepatitis C for samples derived from non-injection drug users (OR 5.74, 95% CI 1.98-16.66).


Findings from the current meta-analysis indicate that tattooing is associated with a higher risk of hepatitis C infection. Because tattooing is more common among the youth and young adults and hepatitis C is very common in the imprisoned population, prevention programs must focus on youngsters and prisoners to lower the spread of hepatitis infection.

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