If you visit the Red Cross web site, their basic guidelines for tattooing and blood donation note that a potential donor must wait twelve months after getting a new tattoo before they will be allowed to give blood. However on November 14, 2008, it was announced that in the state of Virginia, the Red Cross would be changing their rules. Let's revisit the situation and see what's changed.
Bellaonline Body Art first visited the topics of body art and blood donation back in 2005. At that time, the Red Cross had instituted a blanket waiting period of one year for anyone who had gotten tattooed or pierced. The main concerns around this have to do with Hepatitis followed by HIV transmission. Hepatitis is considered the larger threat as it is a much tougher virus to kill outside the body and can live for up to six months on exposed surfaces.
In the last decade, the increase in popularity of tattooing has been somewhat astronomical, especially amongst younger people in their twenties and thirties. Various statistics estimate that as much as thirty percent of all persons 18-48 years old have at least one tattoo. The one year ban on blood donation is definitely removing a large chunk of the healthy adult population from the potential donor pool.
According to a news report from WSLS out of Roanoke, VA, the Red Cross has just lifted that 12-month waiting period under certain special conditions. With increased industry regulation within the state, the Red Cross is now saying they will waive the one year ban for blood donation if the person has been tattooed at a shop that is actively regulated by the state. Virginia state health guidelines stipulate that sterilized needles and inks must be used for tattooing.
With the decrease of available donors due to expanding tattoo popularity, and unforeseen environmental crises such as Katrina in New Orleans and Ike in Texas, it's clear that the need for donors hasn't abated at all. Hopefully, the Red Cross will work with individual states to make this lifesaving gesture more accessible to the tattooed public at large.