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California: Sacramento Campaign Has Warning on Body Art

December 9, 2009

A new campaign launched by UC Davis Cancer Center and California State University-Sacramento seeks to warn young people of the potential dangers associated with getting a tattoo or body piercing.

The popularity of body art has tripled during the past decade. A 2006 survey from the Pew Internet Center found that 36 percent of 18- to 25-year olds and 40 percent of 26- to 40-year-olds have one or more tattoos. And in a study from Sacramento State, 40 percent of college students said they thought piercing and tattoo parlors were safe.

Experts, however, warn that the re-use of tattooing and piercing equipment can transmit blood-borne infections, including HIV and hepatitis C.

Paul King, spokesperson for the Association of Professional Piercers, acknowledged there are virtually no guidelines for body art practitioners in California. "It's very much a ?buyer beware' situation," he said. Only a few counties -- including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San Mateo -- have comprehensive ordinances covering body art.

The new campaign, "Be Smart with Body Art," encourages patrons to ask five questions before undergoing a procedure:

  • Do you use new needles?
  • Do you use new ink caps?
  • Do you sterilize all equipment that may come in contact with blood?
  • Do you use single-use latex gloves?
  • Do you cover fresh tattoos to prevent hepatitis C transmission?

The campaign will reach out to students through campus events and online networking. For more information, visit

Back to other news for December 2009

Adapted from:
Sacramento Bee
12.08.2009; Anna Tong

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More HIV Prevention Policy News on California


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