Prison and other amateur tattoos carry with it a significant hepatitis C risk according to researchers
Although previous studies have shown there to be no increased risk of hepatitis C (HCV) infection when procedures like tattoos and piercing are performed in a professional environment, the same does not hold true when they are done in prison settings or by friends, according to a study by CDC researchers published in the online journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases.
In fact, researchers say the risk is significant especially among those in high-risk groups like prisoners.
“Tattoos and piercings can transmit hepatitis C and other infections if performed under non-sterile conditions,” Rania Tohme, an epidemiologist at the CDC who led the study, told Reuters Health.
“People should not have tattoos or piercings done by friends or by people who are not trained professionals.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3.2 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C, a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver that can lead to diminished liver function or liver failure.
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. It is rare to see it transmitted via organ and tissue transplantation.
Hepatitis C can be either “acute” or “chronic”. Acute hepatitis C virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the 1st 6 months after someone is exposed to hepatitis C virus. For most people, acute infection leads to chronic infection. Chronic hepatitis C is a serious disease than can result in long-term health problems, or even death. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Youths also should be educated on the need to have tattoos and piercings performed under sterile conditions to avoid HCV infection, according to the study.
“Disposable piercing needles, tattoo needles and razors are used on one person and then thrown away. Reusing needles or razors is not safe,” Tohme added.
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