The Bali administration said on Thursday that Australian authorities had accepted its efforts to make sure tattoo parlors on the island were safe, following the case of an Australian who was said to have been infected with HIV from getting a tattoo there.
“We have met with representatives from the Australian Consulate here. We told them what we have done, and they said they understood. So, we consider the case closed,” Bali health department chief Nyoman Sutedja said in Denpasar.
Australian health authorities announced in December that a patient diagnosed with HIV likely caught the virus while being tattooed in Bali.
They recommended that people who had recently been tattooed on the island, known for its sandy beaches, partying and nightlife, should consider being tested for HIV and other blood-borne viruses.
“All the evidence points to a tattoo received recently in Bali as being the source of the infection,” Western Australia’s Department of Health said in a statement at the time.
The department highlighted the risk not only of tattoos but also of body piercings, saying that besides HIV, patients were also potentially exposing themselves to Hepatitis B and C as well as bacterial infections.
As Australians are the largest group of visitors to Bali, the warning irked Bali authorities and the island’s major tourism players, who expressing concerns that Australia’s warning could hurt the lucrative industry.
While Bali health authorities are asking Australia to provide more proof to back its allegations, they said an investigation into the island’s parlors had immediately been launched, checking the cleanliness of their equipment.
The office also said it had begun regularly conducting education campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of needle-sharing in drug consumption or the use of dirty needles in tattoo parlors.
Nyoman said that during the meeting Australian officials had not asked about the results of the agency’s investigation.
“We ourselves need more information from the Australian side. But they did not give us information from their side. However, the most important thing now is how to prevent similar incidents in the future,” he said.
Nyoman said that as part of the preventive measures, the agency would continue to monitor the parlors. They would be required to form an organization so they could better manage themselves , and the issuance of permits for new parlors would be closely monitored.
Indonesian officials said last year the number of known HIV/AIDS cases on Bali was soaring, with one in four prostitutes reported to be HIV-positive and the number of infections jumping almost 19 percent from the year before.
Kadek, the owner of a tattoo parlor in Kuta, said he had been notified about the plan. “We will obey as long as it doesn’t give us more burdens, like difficulties in getting a permit,” he said. Case Closed, Bali Health Authorities Say on Alleged HIV Tattoo | The Jakarta Globe