Michigan tattoo parlor may have exposed customers to HIV, hepatitis

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

A county health department has suspended the operating license of a west Michigan tattoo and piercing parlor that may have exposed former customers to the blood of other customers.

The Berrien County Health Department said it identified unsafe and unsanitary piercing practices at Paparazzi Tattoo & Body Piercing in Niles.

As a precaution, the health department is encouraging customers who have received piercings of their belly button, tongue, nipples or other areas through February are recommended to receive blood tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

Paparazzi Tattoo & Body Piercing in Niles, Michigan.

"Individuals who received these types of piercings may be at increased risk for possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens due to improper sterilization of metal forceps used for those piercing procedures," the department said in a press release. "Customers who received ear and nose piercings exclusively are not at risk and are not recommended for blood testing."

The investigation is ongoing and the department says it has not identified any cases of hepatitis C, hepatitis B, or HIV that are associated with the shop's practices.

The department is working to notify past customers and encourage them to seek testing through their health care provider. Those who do not have a primary care provider can visit the health department's offices in Niles on Tuesdays and Thursdays or Benton Harbor on Mondays and Thursdays.

People infected with viruses such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV may not have symptoms for many years. Even though there may not be symptoms, blood testing is still recommended as there are treatment options available if test results are positive for infection. 

A hotline has been established to answer questions or concerns from the public at 1-800-815-5485. More information is also available at the Berrien County Health Department website at www.bchdmi.org.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_