In acupuncture practice use of sterile needles represents an important moral and health obligation. Without careful use of sterile equipment carries a great risk of infection. Infection happens either by passing germs between people or by introducing germs from the skin into the body. Researchers from microbiology department at the University of Hong Kong report in their study more than 50 worldwide cases of infection after acupuncture. Skin infections seemed to be the most common problem, usually because patient's skin wasn't disinfected. However, they also report serious infections of joints and tissues around heart, spine or brain. There is even a case of MRSA or superbug infection: the patient needed a surgery to remove infected joint and six months of treatment with strong antibiotics. There have also been several hepatitis B associated with acupuncture outbreaks reported.
Theoretically, it is possible to transmit HIV with acupuncture but there are no confirmed cases. As already said, the main problem is improperly sterilized reusable needles that may potentially transmit a disease. However, serious problems don't seem to be common, and acupuncture in rigorously sterile conditions is unlikely to put you at risk. Rigorous control of acupuncture practitioners, in means of stricter regulation and accreditation, is needed. But also their own self control and moral responsibility in observing all infection control measures, such as using disposable needles, skin disinfection procedures, and aseptic techniques.
If you are planning acupuncture, make sure to visit practitioner who is registered with national organization, and also check if that person treating you has professional indemnity insurance. It is important to emphasis that infection can happen and that acupuncture does carry some risks, but so does the visit to the dentist or taking Aspirin. Anyway, do to rise unnecessary panic: following article should give additional explanation that should preserve positive reputation of acupuncture and give a balanced, accurate representation of factual medical information.