Australia: Olympians Warned Not to Celebrate Beijing With Tattoos
July 17, 2008
Hepatitis Australia is warning that the tradition for some athletes to celebrate their participation in the Olympic Games in Beijing by getting a tattoo "seriously risks" the transmission of blood-borne diseases. "Everyone would benefit from knowing more about the risks involved with tattooing," said Helen Tyrrell, the organization's chief executive. Inadequately sterilized needles can easily transmit hepatitis B and C, as can dipping the tattoo needle into ink pots previously used for other customers, she said. China has one of the world's highest hepatitis B infection rates, with around 9 percent of the population estimated to be infected, she noted. Australia's rate is under 1 percent. Chronic hepatitis B and C kill 1.5 million people each year, though awareness of the diseases is low in Australia and worldwide, said Tyrrell. "Young people, in particular, have been shown to be largely ignorant of infection risks," she added.
Australian Associated Press
07.16.2008; Tamara McLean