Hepatitis C is a virus that doesn’t reveal itself immediately or prominently. In the U.S., about 3.2 million people are living with hepatitis C. Unfortunately, the majority of those infected might not even know it because the symptoms aren’t easily noticed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The most common spread of hepatitis C is through needles or syringes, often times related to drug use. However, it is also possible to see the spread of the virus through tattoo needles. While the spread of hepatitis C through tattoo needles isn’t common, it’s still possible.

When getting a tattoo or piercing, it is important to be picky about the tattoo parlor you are visiting. You should always look to see if the tattooing establishment is clean and that certifications are hung on the wall, or in clear sight. Next, check to see that the artist is unwrapping all new material, such as the needle, razor and cleaning supplies for your skin.

Remember, the artist is tattooing your body. It’s always okay to ask the tattoo artist questions to ensure you feel completely comfortable. Ask if they’re using a new needle, if they cleaned the chair before you sat in it or if anyone has ever had complications with a tattoo after leaving their shop.

Hepatitis C is a virus that can lead to long-term health problems and sometimes result in death. Cleanliness, research and being alert before getting a tattoo could all be factors that potentially save your life.