SAN DIEGO – Tattoos are rapidly moving into mainstream America, and as more states regulate tattoo facilities, persons with tattoos can be blood donors without compromising patient safety, Mary Townsend of Blood Systems Inc. reported at the annual meeting of the American Association of Blood Banks.
“Two big states – Arizona and California – were added to the list of approved states, and we had a gain of 2,216 donors in California during a 3-month period and a gain of 4,035 donors in Arizona over 4 months,” Ms. Townsend said.
Both the AABB and the Food and Drug Administration require a 12-month deferral of donors after they have received tattoos using nonsterile needles or reusable ink. The FDA’s current 2015 guidance also states that tattooed donors can give plasma as soon as the inked area has healed if they reside in a state with applied inspections and licenses for tattoo facilities, and if a sterile needle and ink were used.
Blood Systems monitors state regulations to see if they require tattoo establishments to be licensed and require the use of sterile needles and non-reusable ink. To be considered an approved state, the regulations have to be statewide, covering all jurisdictions.
In, Ms. Townsend and her colleagues compared the rates of donors who were deferred before and after Arizona and California were added to the list of approved states, to determine the potential gain in donors with changes in state tattoo licensing regulations.
They analyzed blood centers in California and Arizona before and after implementation of state tattoo regulations, and also screened individuals who had received tattoos in those states with the question: “In the past 12 months have you had a tattoo?” and if the answer was ‘yes,’ if the tattoo was applied by a state regulated facility.
For California, they compared two periods – 3 months before regulations were implemented (February to April of 2015) and 3 months after (February to April of 2016) regulations were implemented. For Arizona, they selected a 4-month period (December 2015 to March 2016) and 4 months afterward (December 2016 to March 2017).
A higher proportion of donors who came to centers to donate blood admitted to having gotten a tattoo within the last 12 months in the postregulatory period in both states. The increase in donors occurred immediately following the addition of both states to the Acceptable States List. Accepted donors increased 13-fold in California and 3-fold in Arizona. The absolute number of accepted donors with tattoos rose from 13 to 567 in California and from 151 to 1,496 in Arizona, which represented an annual potential gain of 2,216 and 4,035 additional blood donations.
For blood donors who received a tattoo in a regulated state, blood donations were reviewed for the presence of infectious disease markers including HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. All donors who had received a tattoo in a regulated state tested negative for HIV, HBV, and HCV.
“Roughly one in three people (in the United States) have a tattoo and, of those, about 70% have more than one tattoo. The bottom line is that 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo,” she said. As state regulations adhere to guidelines regarding tattoos and blood donation, the pool of donors increases.