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Monday, September 23, 2019  

IndestructiblePublished 4/12/2004

Have you ever noticed that anyone under thirty is indestructible? Even some people who are older have the same conviction. Maybe it’s just an old person’s thing but I think today’s world is more dangerous.

When I was young, admittedly a while back, unwed pregnancy was a disgrace, but the only real consequence for unprotected sex was a baby. The unwed mother was faced with the challenge of raising an infant with little support. But the choice was there. You would live to raise that child.

Today, girls have more options. Abortion is legal. Birth control is easily available and protection can be purchased at the local drug store. The problem is, with all the available options, pregnancy among teens is rising. Which means, not only are the teens not using birth control, they are having unprotected sex. The consequences these days are more serious and involve acquiring life-long fatal diseases such as Aids, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. In spite of nation-wide education, teens continue to view Aids and Hepatitis B as something that happens to someone else, not to them. If you don’t use drugs and you aren’t gay, you don’t have a problem.

Factor in the personal statement and adornments made through tattoos and body piercing’ more practices not seen among high school and college students a couple of decades ago. More and more evidence is being uncovered that indicates Hepatitis C can be linked to tattooing and body piercing. 70% of patients with HCV may develop chronic liver disease.

Even though the Centers for Disease Control and prevention(CDC) is not convinced that tattooing and body piercing are independent risk factors for HCV infection in the United States, other countries, including Canada, have developed comprehensive infection control guidelines for tattooing, piercing and electrolysis.

Some of the difficulty of obtaining statistically valid numbers for HCV transmissions due to tattooing or piercing is the subclinical HCV seropositivity without the acute hepatitis syndrome. Intradermal exposure to small quantities of inocula may cause only sub-clinical HCV infections. However the client may develop severe liver damage down-the-line.

Proponents of tattooing and piercing insist that self expression is important and should not be regulated. Others believe that Oklahoma has no problem since tattooing is illegal. Of course, those who want tattooed will find someone to do it for them, in or out of this state. If they go out of state, any contracted disease will have to be treated here.

If risky behavior is going to be employed, protection needs to be employed. It would be better to legalize the procedure and inspect the businesses infection control practices. Customers for such practices need to be cautious and ask to see the disposable needles and equipment opened in front of them. Insist on hand hygiene before allowing practitioners to touch them. Using common sense can do wonders.

Contact with body fluids is the issue. Placing a barrier between body fluids and mucous membranes is essential for disease prevention. It doesn’t matter whether anyone is engaged in sex, piercing or tattooing or even electrolysis. We know from Norman’s experience that Hepatitis C is a hardy virus and can be transmitted easily. Even a small scratch can transmit disease.

The Alliance of Professional Tattooists(APT) warns tattoo artists about the risk of transmitting and acquiring hepatitis. To prevent transmission of bloodborne pathogens, APT urged tattoo artist to autoclave their single service equipment, used disposable when possible, use individual portions of ink and lubricant, dispose of used sharps appropriately, use registered virucidals to clean stations between clients and use barrier protection.

Humans are not indestructible, much as they’d like to think they are. So the choice is, if people engage in risky behavior they have to use precautions and insist that those treating them do the same.v

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