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J Public Health Policy. 1999;20(4):459-70.

Risks associated with tattooing and body piercing.

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Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


The purpose of this article is to highlight the importance of including cosmetic body-piercing and tattooing in HIV prevention and education. Little information about risks associated with tattoos or having one's body pierced is evident in the health promotion and disease prevention literature, particularly among adolescents, ethnic groups, and incarcerated populations. It is incumbent that preventionists address behaviors such as tattooing and body piercing as possible vectors for HIV transmission in addition to typical concerns (homosexuality, i.v. drug use, condom use and safer sex practices). This article draws attention to the need for formation of regulatory policy issues related to body piercing and tattooing parlors. Currently, 26 percent of the states have regulatory authority over tattooing establishments, while only 4 states exercise such authority over body-piercing establishments. Implications for future research and policy initiatives are identified.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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