MASON CITY — After recently receiving reports and complaints regarding unlicensed tattoo facilities and artists, Cerro Gordo County health officials are warning people who have received a tattoo or body piercing from someone unlicensed that they should be tested for HIV and Hepatitis.
The County Health Department’s environmental specialist Cortney Perrin says unsterilized instruments could result in something being passed along from person to person. – “Because of sanitation and what not, we do require that certain sterilization be done. If guns are being reused, if so any sort of needles or equipment, if anything is going to be reused, there is a certain sterilization process that you have to go through, basically it’s an autoclave, and whether or not that’s being done in homes or not, one would not know. The main thing is if any instruments were contaminated with somebody else’s blood, or not sterilized properly, or sued from client to client, there would be that risk of some blood-borne pathogens such as the Hepatitis B and C and HIV.”
Perrin says people going to get a tattoo or piercing should check to make sure it’s a licensed facility. “If they are an actual permitted or licensed tattoo facility, it is required that they hang the permit up, which is issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health at the state level, they are required to post that in a place that is visible to the public. If you can’t see that, or maybe if you noticed that it’s out of date or something, ask for the most recent one or ask for them to show you that they are an actual licensed facility. I would highly encourage people to start doing that because they are supposed to be posted in a very visible place according to Chapter 22 in Iowa Code.”
Perrin says if you encounter someone who is not licensed, contact the authorities. “If you do think that somebody is out there tattooing unlicensed, be sure to get it in. We want to make sure that we are protecting the public, trying to make it the most safe environment that we can, especially in an industry such as this because it does have to deal with some blood borne pathogens and what not. We want to make sure there isn’t any risks of you know transmitting diseases. Making sure everybody’s following everything to code, our main goal is to make sure that we provide that safety-net between the facilities and the public.”
Perrin says you can easily find out what licensed facilities are in the area. “If people are curious as to what actual establishments in our area specifically, or in the state of Iowa, which ones are licensed facilities, you can go on the IDPH website and you can search that there is a public search to see different establishments and different artists that are actually licensed and that are able to do this, or you can also contact us directly. If you’re looking to get a tattoo in Cerro Gordo County, the only licensed facilities that we have are located either in Mason City or Clear Lake at this time.”
For more information about HIV or Hepatitis testing, you can call the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health at 421-9300.