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23 December 2011

HIV link to Bali tattoo

The Department of Health is warning Western Australians of the potential health risks of getting a tattoo in Bali, following confirmation of a WA case of HIV where all the evidence points to a tattoo received recently in Bali as being the source of the infection.

Department of Health Communicable Disease Control Director Dr Paul Armstrong said getting body art and piercings done overseas, particularly in developing countries, was not recommended.

"While tattooists in Western Australian must comply with strict regulations and a code of practice, tattoo parlours overseas may not meet the same standards," Dr Armstrong said.

"This case demonstrates the very real health risk in having this type of procedure done overseas," he said.

"Western Australians who have had a tattoo done in Bali recently should consult their GP and consider the need for testing for HIV and other blood-borne viruses.

"The equipment used in tattooing and body piercing, if contaminated with infected blood, can pose a risk of transmission of blood-borne viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C as well as bacterial infections."

HIV is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact and sexual activity. There is no vaccine or cure.

**Please note the Department of Health will not be providing any information regarding the Western Australian case.

Media Contact: 9222 4333

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