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HIV and Hepatitis reported being contracted through illegal body art in the Metro

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FARGO—Public health officials are warning people after some in the metro contracted Hepatitis and HIV.

Fargo Cass Public Health says a few people have caught those viruses through illegal body art.

It says letting an unlicensed person give you a tattoo or piercing can be deadly.

"It's a very fun, natural body high when you're getting tattooed and it's a wonderful feeling," said Paul Johnson, 46 and 2 Tattoo.

For Paul Johnson of 46 and 2 Tattoo going to work everyday is a treat.

"This is barely a job it's so much fun," said Johnson.

Sure, he laughs a lot, but there's one thing he, and all the artists here take seriously.

"It's no joke when you're taking someone's health into your hands," said Johnson.

Which is why he was baffled to hear several people around the metro have contracted serious infections from unlicensed piercings or tattoos.

"That's like saying 'well I know he doesn't have any dental experience, but I'll let him work on my teeth because he's cheaper,'" said Johnson.

Tattoos last forever, but public health officials say so can viruses caught through amateur body art.

"These are life-changing illnesses-We want a sterile environment, like an operating room," said Grant Larson, Fargo Cass Public Health.

They say even when garage Van Gogh's are careful, they can't be sure what they're doing is safe.

"Hepatitis C is a very hardy virus. It can remain on surfaces up to a month in the needle, even," said Brenton Nesemeier, ND Department of Health.

Which is why every legitimate tattoo parlor, and artist, are strictly regulated and monitored.

One mistake can cause a lifetime of sickness or a whole host of other problems.

So if you're considering getting inked by an amateur, just remember the art may not be the only thing staying with you forever.

Fargo Cass Public Health is urging anyone who has recently had an illegal tattoo or piercing done to immediately be tested for any infections.

Tattooing without a permit is a Class B Misdemeanor in North Dakota and can be punished by up to a year in jail.

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