At the sharp end

Home tattooists are the new front line of a rapidly morphing war against hepatitis C. There is no vaccine for the disease which is causing liver cancer at an alarming rate. Otago hep C patients, tattoo artists and health advocates are among those calling for nationwide changes that could see this long-stigmatised virus eradicated within our lifetime, writes Bruce Munro. 

Angela Stenersen is about to begin a year-long treatment to try to rid her body of hepatitis C. The trainee Dunedin photographer will be taking daily doses of drugs so powerful she will not be able to study. It is the price she is paying for going under the gun of a home tattooist.

On 37-year-old skin that has been the canvas for plenty of elaborate body art, the small Rolling Stones tongue and lips tattoo is as amateurish as it is seemingly innocuous.

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