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Iíve Got You Under My Skin

Western Australian Health Officials Issue Health Warning for Travelers Getting a Tattoo in Bali

(12/25/2011) A number of Australian media outlets are warning of a threat of HIV infection from having a tattoo in Bali.

The warning comes after Western Australia’s Department of Health issued a [health warning] confirming a Western Australia man had contracted HIV after a visit to a Bali tattoo parlor.

The Western Australian health officials say “all evidence points to a tattoo received recently in Bali as being the source of the infection.”

Tattoo parlors in Indonesia operate in a largely unregulated atmosphere, while Western Australian tattooists follow a strict regime of licensing and mandatory health protocols.

Health officials in Australia are recommending against receiving a tattoo in Bali and suggesting that those who have recently had a tattoo performed on the island consult their doctor and consider the need for HIV and other blood-borne disease testing.

The cases in which HIV has been proven to have been spread by tattoos are exceedingly rare. Nonetheless, health officials have highlighted HIV, hepatitis (both B and C), and other bacterial infections as possible risks to those who undergo tattoo treatment.

Western Australian officials will not release additional details of the person purportedly infected with HIV in Bali or the name of the establishment where the tattoo was performed.

Likening the risk of a tattoo in Bali to that of having unprotected sex, some media are highlighting the rapid rise of HIV infections in Bali where one in four prostitutes is believed to be HIV positive.

Tattoo Precautions

For those who remain committed to receiving a tattoo while visiting Bali, here’s a non-comprehensive list of precautions to consider before “going under the tattooist’s needle: