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Man claims a tattoo artist refuse to tattoo him because he is HIV-positive

By Steve Brown

A man claims he was refused service at a tattoo parlour because he is HIV-positive.

George Westwood, 19, had gone to the Vida Loca studio in Bolton to get a tattoo representing his journey with HIV but after telling the business after paying his deposit, they refused to serve him.

Although they apologised, Westwood was left shocked after they said they were unable to tattoo him and said he could collect his deposit.

He told PinkNews: “I rang them and told them about my status and the tattoo artist said she wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to do it, so she would speak to her boss.

“I received a phone call [on May 26] to say, ‘No, we can’t do it’. I wasn’t offered any explanation and [told] that I should just go and collect my deposit.

“I was just expecting a, ‘Thanks for letting us know’. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. But I got a completely different response to what I expected.

“It did upset me, it did shock me – I nearly cried at work. I feel like I’ve made so much progress in such a short space of time, and it feels like all that progress has been thrown back in my face.”

The incident – which is illegal under the 2010 Equalities Act – has made Westwood want to raise even more awareness around the condition.

He said: “It’s something so trivial – it just doesn’t need to happen.

“People need to think about and realise how much progress we have made. It’s not what people think it is, and it’s definitely not what it used to be and people living with it do lead healthy normal lives.”

Owner Daniel Watson said he supported the tattooist’s decision not to tattoo Westwood saying they don’t have insurance to ink someone who is HIV-positive.

Watson said: “It’s the artist’s choice who they do or don’t tattoo, and in this circumstance I fully support her decision.

“There are many factors which led her to this decision. One of them mainly being we are not covered by our insurance to tattoo someone with HIV.

“Then the risk of her catching herself with the needle during or after the procedure. Or another member of the staff that cleans down the station catching themselves with the infected needle.

“There is also risk for the customer receiving the tattoo. If their immune system is low due to the treatment they will be receiving the chance of infection would also be very high. Why risk all this just so one person could get a tattoo.”