Local health officials say if you got tattooed by someone not licensed, get tested for HIV & Hepatitis

MASON CITY — Local health officials are encouraging anybody who may have received a tattoo or body piercing from an unlicensed tattoo artist to get tested for HIV and Hepatitis.

Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health environmental health specialist Mark Mathre says typically unlicensed tattoo artists aren’t working in conditions that are sanitary and likely could pass disease along.  “Even in the best of circumstances, it’s very easy to pass along all sorts of things, but when you have these illegal tattooists doing in their garage, living room, basement, obviously opens itself up to a whole host of problems.”

Mathre says if anybody has gotten a tattoo from a non-licensed facility, it’s a good idea to go get checked out.  “My first words of advice would be not to get a tattoo there, but certainly if you do choose to get one, it’s a good idea to get tested for any sorts of things after that.”

Mathre says licensed facilities are to make sure tattooing is done under safe conditions, which you might not get at an unlicensed facility.  “In a lot of our facilities, they do sterilize their equipment or they use a lot of disposable stuff, and there’s certain rules that they have to abide by. When you’re going into an unlicensed facility, what’s being done is kind of anybody’s best guess. You would hope they would incorporate some of those practices into their operation, but there’s no guarantees that they are, so then you’re kind of buyer beware.”

Mathre says if people are wondering if someone is licensed, you can check with local or state health officials.  “You can always call our office at CG Public Health. You can also contact the state health department. Obviously we are concerned about this particular situation because it occurred within the boundaries of our county, but that doesn’t stop anybody from going to another county or another city to get a tattoo. You can always contact the Iowa Department of Public Health and you get on their website type in tattoo and you can with a little bit of searching find all of the license facilities in the state.”

Mason City police earlier this week arrested 20-year-old Ian McIntire and charged him with one count of ongoing criminal conduct and seven counts of unlawful tattooing of a person under the age of 18.