Risk of Blood-borne Viruses from Skin-piercing Beauty Treatments
September 26, 2013
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In the light of several recent news reports, the Don’t Get Stuck With HIV site has created a new page on possible risks associated with use of skin-piercing products such as Botox and Malanotan. Injection of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs can carry similar risks, especially if they are administered in an unsterile environment, and/or administered by untrained or inexperienced providers. The UK Government has issued a warning, saying that steroid users are at higher risk of HIV and viral hepatitis. The Don’t Get Stuck With HIV page offers easy to follow advice to people considering such treatments.
Similar information and advice on injections in general is available throughout the Don’t Get Stuck With HIV site; healthcare risks aside from injections are discussed here. There is also information on risks from other cosmetic treatments, such as tattooing, ear and body piercing, manicures and pedicures and hair styling and shaving. However, beauty treatments that pierce the skin may be more risky than some of these other cosmetic treatments because instruments such as needles go deeper below the skin than tattoo needles, for example.
A recent article on the BBC website draws attention to the concerns of a health watchdog about the safety of Botox injections in the UK. They are also questioning the safety of anabolic steroids, tanning agents and dermal fillers. These treatments can be obtained in salons, or they can be self administered. The article warns that sharing equipment can carry a risk of infection with HIV, hepatitis or other blood borne diseases. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently preparing guidelines on these issues.
Botox is a prescription only drug. However, an Australian news network ran an article late last year about a ‘backyard botox’ clinic, a specific clinic in Western Australia where infection control practices were found to be lacking, highlighting some of the health risks involved. It is said that the risk of infection with blood-borne diseases is small, but nevertheless real. Some practitioners may offer such treatments in the home, where conditions are likely to be unsuitable.
In 2008, the BBC reported that a growing number of people in the UK are injecting themselves with an unlicensed hormonal tanning drug called Melanotan. It is possible that this drug is being sold illegally online, in salons, in gyms and in health and fitness centers.