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  • Constance Dickson
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    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2001
      > Saturday | April 7, 2001
      > Tattoos are top risk for hepatitis C, study says
      > Local findings contradict previous data on
      > contracting virus
      > 04/05/2001
      > By Kim Horner / The Dallas Morning News
      > Tattoos are the leading cause of hepatitis C,
      > according to a study released Wednesday by local
      > researchers. The study found that tattoos from
      > commercial parlors caused about 40 percent of the
      > cases of the potentially fatal virus, which attacks
      > the liver and causes cirrhosis and cancer.
      > "We need to warn the public that this is not
      > necessarily a safe practice, and there may be
      > long-term consequences here," said Dr. Robert Haley,
      > University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
      > chief of epidemiology and co-author of the study.
      > Hepatitis C is the most common chronic viral
      > infection and affects nearly 2 percent of the
      > nation's population. There are currently more than
      > 4,800 reported cases in Dallas County.
      > In 1998, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
      > Prevention published information saying tattooing
      > was not a risk factor for hepatitis C. Only 1
      > percent of patients reported a history of tattooing,
      > the agency said, noting that no data exist to show
      > tattoos caused an increased risk for hepatitis C.
      > In the newly released study, which was published in
      > the March issue of the journal Medicine, Dr. Paul
      > Fischer of Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas
      > interviewed 626 people in North Texas in 1991 and
      > 1992 about their risk factors for hepatitis C.
      > His data found 52 people with tattoos from
      > commercial parlors, over 33 percent of whom were
      > infected with hepatitis C. The people with tattoos
      > could not be linked to any other risk factors,
      > researchers said. Only 3.5 percent of patients
      > without tattoos were infected.
      > People who received tattoos in a commercial parlor
      > were nine times more likely to be infected with the
      > virus than people without tattoos, according to the
      > study.
      > Dr. Haley said hepatitis C could be spread by the
      > reuse of needles or dye during tattooing, inadequate
      > sterilization and other unsafe practices. Dr. Haley
      > recommended that anyone with tattoos be tested for
      > the virus, which may not display symptoms for 10 to
      > 30 years. If caught early, hepatitis C can be
      > treated.
      > Researchers said they did not release the study for
      > nearly a decade after the data were collected
      > because they thought other research articles would
      > address the issue. But that didn't happen, Dr. Haley
      > said. Dr. Haley said the 1998 CDC findings
      > influenced researchers to present their study and
      > show evidence to the contrary.
      > Mark Thompson, tattoo artist at Trilogy Tattoo and
      > Obscurities Body Piercing in Oak Lawn, said that he
      > had not seen the study but that he was skeptical of
      > its findings. Industry standards have improved
      > significantly in recent years, he said, as has
      > scrutiny from the Health Department.
      > Mr. Thompson said most tattoo artists use strict
      > sterilization procedures for their own health as
      > well as their clients'. But he agreed with the
      > study's findings that state inspectors should keep a
      > close watch on the industry. "There's a bad shop
      > here and there, just like there's a bad doctor or
      > bad dentist," Mr. Thompson said.
      > The study's findings weren't surprising to Ian
      > Mohan, head piercer at Cat Tattoo in Addison who
      > also does tattoos. His shop has strict sterilization
      > standards, but many do not, he said. "If you go
      > into a clean shop, it's perfectly safe," he said.
      > Dr. Haley said that though the Texas Department of
      > Health regulates tattoo parlors, the industry has
      > not faced close scrutiny because of a lack of
      > evidence linking tattoos to infections such as
      > hepatitis C.
      > He said the study lists tattoos as the top behavior
      > risk for contracting the virus, surpassing even
      > intravenous drug use, blood transfusions and
      > hospital workers stuck with needles.
      > Dr. Haley said the risk is lower for other
      > blood-borne diseases such as HIV, which causes AIDS.
      > That's because hepatitis C is more easily passed
      > through a small amount of blood than HIV.
      > (c) 2001 The Dallas Morning News<br
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