Body piercing as a risk factor for viral hepatitis: an integrative research review

Am J Infect Control. 2001 Aug;29(4):271-4. doi: 10.1067/mic.2001.114402.


The relationship of viral hepatitis and body piercing has been investigated in 12 research studies published between 1974 and 1997. Because there are often a large number of unknowns regarding the cause of viral hepatitis, most of the studies were conducted to identify multiple risk factors for hepatitis. Eight of the 12 studies identified percutaneous exposure, including body piercing and ear piercing, as a risk factor for viral hepatitis. Six studies found that hepatitis seropositivity was significantly associated with ear piercing. Conclusions indicate that evidence is sufficient to institute public health education along with regulation of the body-piercing industry. Recent research has found a significant increase in legislative efforts to regulate body piercing. Little research has focused directly on body piercing as a specific risk factor for viral hepatitis. Further research in this area is necessary to increase the understanding of hepatitis transmission by body piercing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cosmetic Techniques / adverse effects*
  • Hepatitis, Viral, Human / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Punctures / adverse effects*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires