Health Chief Seeks Clarification amid HIV Tattoo Storm
Bali’s Health Department has reiterated demands for clarification and evidence from the Australian authorities over claims that a tourist from West Australia contracted HIV after getting a tattoo in Bali.
The claims emerged after Australian broadcaster ABC News reported that the West Australian Health Department was stating that a patient had contracted HIV after getting a tattoo in Bali. The patient’s details were not revealed, but the story was titled “Getting a tattoo in Bali is like having unprotected sex.”
The ABC report did not identify the tattoo parlour involved in the allegations, but stated that travel warnings would be issued for those heading to Bali.
West Australia’s director of communicable disease control, Paul Armstrong, was quoted as saying that anyone who had got a tattoo or piercing in Bali should be tested for HIV.
The allegations have been strongly contested by local tattooists, and last week Health Department head I Nyoman Sutedja said that no clear information about the case had been forwarded by the his West Australian counterparts.
“We have held a meeting with the Australian Consulate and representatives from AusAid several days ago. I demanded clarification and information on the victim’s background to determine whether the victim was infected when getting a tattoo in Bali,” he said, adding that it was essential to know the identity of the tattoo parlour at the centre of the claims if the Balinese authorities were to take action.
Sutedja said that in response to the claims the department had already conducted checks at many local tattoo parlours in Kuta.
“Based on our data, there are at least 37 permanent parlours. The other parlours are mobile, usually offering tattoo services at beaches and other places,” he said, adding that the department would issue further guidance about safe practice to all local tattooists. He said that based on the recent checks most parlours were already following strict hygiene procedures.
Sutedja said that without access to the unnamed Australian’s medical records proving the source of the infection would be impossible.
“So far, there has yet to be a case of HIV in Bali caused by getting a tattoo,” he said, adding that according to department data unprotected heterosexual sex was by far the biggest source of new infections, accounting for 74 percent of HIV cases in Bali.Filed under: Headlines