COLUMBUS, GA/PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - A Georgia Health Department wants to warn citizens to do their research when choosing a tattoo artist, due to an increased risk of illnesses like HIV and hepatitis in the west-central Georgia region.
Georgia health officials say the number of people reporting unlicensed body artists and businesses is up in our region, so they're asking consumers to use caution. Some tattoo shops are offering holiday deals and specials and seeing an increase in customers.
Pam Kirkland with the Department of Public Health said there are several individuals in the area who are operating without a Tattoo Artist Permit from the Health Department.
"Because of this, there is an increased risk to the population of contracting blood borne pathogens such as Hepatitis, HIV, etc., should the public decide to use Tattoo Artists who are not permitted by the Health Department," Kirkland said.
Properly-permitted tattoo artists should be able to provide a current Tattoo Artist permit, which allows them to only operate within a tattoo studio that has a current permit from the local Health Department.
"If you are considering getting a tattoo or body piercing, ask your artist to show you their current permit and health department inspection report for their establishment", said West Central Health District Environmental Health Manager, Jerome Deal.
Health officials also provide the following tips:
Call your local health department and ask about which facilities are permitted before making your choice about where to have your tattoo or piercing done
Body artists that work in permitted establishments must be certified in methods to control harmful viruses and bacteria as well as CPR
These facilities are regularly inspected in order to verify that they are operating under sanitary conditions
The local health department verifies that the establishments are properly disposing their contaminated materials safely
If you ever had a tattoo applied outside a permitted establishment consider contacting your healthcare provider or local health department for Hepatitis and HIV testing.
Deal said the public can report unlicensed body artists and studios to local law enforcement or the county health department. "According to the State of Georgia, any person, firm, or corporation operating a tattoo studio without a valid permit or performing tattooing outside of a licensed tattoo studio is breaking the law," said Deal.
The federal government also provides a comprehensive to-do list when considering which tattoo artist you're going to have lay ink on you. They want everyone to be aware of the risks and advice on how to research. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm048919.htm