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want to avoid Hepatitis ? Don’t get a tattoo

Chennai–The tattoo craze among city youth could lead to a steep rise in the cases of Hepatitis B and C, say medical experts

With an increase in the number of youngsters opting for tattoos, medical experts in the city are worried that this could lead to rise in the number of Hepatitis B and C cases.

Recent international studies have shown an alarming link between both forms of the virus and people who sport tattoos. According to these reports, both Hepatitis B and C viruses can be contracted if an individual uses a needle and ink that has been previously used on an infected person.

Another recent study conducted by doctors from MIOT Hospital in Chennai has found that India is likely to emerge as the global capital of the Hepatitis B virus. This form of the virus is responsible for 60 per cent of all liver cancer cases in the world. According to the study, currently the number of Hepatitis B carriers in India is estimated to be over 40 million or four crore.

Doctors in the city are reporting a high number of cases of youngsters who have tattoos getting infected by the virus. “Recently, I came across three or four patients with tattoos who had tested positive for Hepatitis B and C. If a needle has been used on someone with Hepatitis B or C, it can easily transmit the virus to the next person who uses the needle, because the needle penetrates deep into the skin during tattooing. The fad of people opting for tattoos is causing a major risk,” Dr Abha Nagral, consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist in Bhatia and Jaslok Hospital said.

She added that people should refrain from reusing the ink and needles and opt for sealed packs instead.

Dr Satish Kulkarni, Gastroenterologist and member of the Indian Association for Study of Liver, agreed and said, “Tattooing has always been a risk factor in the spread of Hepatitis B and C. In the past, we would have cases of villagers with multiple tattoos contracting Hepatitis. The reason behind it would be sharing of the same needle.”

According to Kulkarni, a young man recently visited him. He had many tattoos on his body, and tested positive for Hepatitis B. On enquiring, the boy reportedly told the doctor that he got his tattoos done in various parts of the country and never checked on the ink or the needles.

“Now with the tattoo fad increasing in urban areas, if ink and needles are reused, there is a clear possibility of a rise in Hepatitis cases. People opting for tattoos should know that the ink and the needle used should be new,” Kulkarni concluded.

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