Scorpion tattoos like the one recently inked onto broadcaster David Dimbleby's shoulder sometimes serve as a symbol of being HIV positive in the gay community, it has emerged.
Question Time host Dimbleby, 75, achieved a lifetime's ambition by having the body art filmed for his latest TV documentary series.
The married father-of-four said he chose the scorpion because it matches his star sign, adding it was "sitting on my shoulder ready to attack my enemies".
The scorpion symbol is also reportedly one of several “biohazard” signs used in the gay community which HIV positive males commonly have inked on their bodies.
The sting in the tail is said to represent the virus. Other popular designs include the nuclear symbol.
Conley, a sociologist, told the channel he was aware of between 45 and 60 other gay men in online forums who had scorpion or biohazard symbols to denote their HIV status.
"Basically saying, 'I'm positive and you need to know that, especially if we're going to engage in any intimate relation' - it has that meaning," he said.
UPDATE: Since the publication of this article there has been much debate about the symbolism of scorpion tattoos in the gay community.
Lisa Power, policy director at the Terrence Higgins Trust, told Metro: "It’s important to remember you can’t tell if someone is HIV positive through a tattoo or a secret sign, the only way you can know is by them telling you.
"You shouldn’t try and second guess things like this."
Meanwhile, Matthew Hodson, chief executive of GMFA told Pink News he had not heard of scorpion tattoos being used this way in gay communities before, but added: “Most people with HIV don’t tell all of their sexual partners. If you’ve had a bad reaction in the past it makes it harder to say the next time.
"And although some gay men choose to ink their status, fierce and unapologetic, on their skin, the majority of us don’t."