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SyringeIn an analysis of past studies, the CDC concluded that amatuer tattoos (those performed by friends and family, or not in a tattoo parlour) carry a high risk of Hepatitis C transmission. While the risk may seem obvious, it needs to be said that teens may not be aware of the risk of Hepatitis C transmission, and are more likely to experiment with amateur tattoos and, in particular, piercings—which is also a risk for Hepatitis C transmission.

The CDC stated that there’s never been an outbreak of Hepatitis C transmission from a professional tattoo parlour in the US, despite the occasional circulating urban legend.

Just for an interesting comparison: there’s about 20,000 tattoo parlours in the US, and a little less than 6,000 hospitals. Of course, hospitals are huge compared to a tattoo parlour, where any patient may interact with half a dozen or more individuals. And pain medication—which is often the source of Hepatitis C transmission in hospitals—isn’t a factor at tattoo parlours.

Still, the difference in sterilization and accountability is stark—not only would a tattoo parlour shut down in the event of Hepatitis C transmission being sourced to it, every other parlour in the community and many across the country would suffer at least a temporary loss of business. There are fewer options when you need a doctor (and it’s mandated so—only about 16,000 doctors graduate each year, despite an increasing US population).

What are your thoughts on Hepatitis C transmission, hospitals, and tattoo parlours?

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