Australian Contracts HIV From Tattoo In Bali

Hey there Guys,

I’ve woken to the following news article from the ABC that is very sad indeed:

The Department of Health has revealed a West Australian resident has contracted HIV after getting a tattoo in Bali.

The victim was given the news that they had contracted the virus after they underwent a blood test on their return home.

The department has not released any details about the victim or the tattoo parlour involved, but say it has not been notified of this happening before.

The WA Health Department’s Director of Communicable Disease Control, Doctor Paul Armstrong, says people need to be aware of the dangers involved in getting body art overseas.

“If you are considering getting a tattoo in countries other than Australia think very carefully about it,” he said.

“We would advise that you wait until you get back to this country because there is a higher risk of developing blood-born viruses in developing countries than there is here.”

The Commonwealth Government is expected to update health and overseas traveller warnings.

This is a very distressing report as I have many patients and friends who have purchased tattoo’s when traveling as a “memory of their holiday”.

Sadly the tattoo industry is not regulated as is here in Australia. Without proper clean, sterile equipment the risk of virus infections like HIV but much more likely Hepatitis C skyrocket.

With all patients that visit me for travel advice, outside the standard vaccinations I am careful to share the following two pieces of advice.

  1. Don’t get tattoo’s or piercings when overseas. Indeed they may be cheaper however the clinic may not have the facilities to be able to properly clean and sterilize the equipment.They also may not be able to afford disposable equipment for ink. Even if the needles are clean without individual cups your ink is will have been dipped into the blood of the person before you. Yep that is what you are getting if they don’t use individual ink cups! This is the perfect way to share HIV and Hepatitis C.

    If you are getting a tattoo in the back alley of a market it’s highly unlikely there is a special sterilizing facility hidden behind the curtain at the back of the tent.

  2. If you are planning on being sexually active while traveling, be sure to bring condoms from home. Australian condoms have been tested carefully and are more likely to have been stored in temperatures that will not cause damage to the fragile latex.If you buy condoms in Asia you may not be able to be reassured that the condoms have been stored correctly, carefully manufactured and finally some counties make condoms to sizes that match the population and may not fit as well.

Guys if you are travelling over the holidays or some time soon I urge you to look after yourself and save tattoo’s and other body modifications for when you get home. Check out my article on getting a safe tattoo here:
The Healthy Bears Guide To Getting A Tattoo

Yours in good health.

Dr George

PS If you know of any friends that are travelling soon, please share this article with them. One good way is to hit the like button below.

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