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Although mostly used to describe loyalty, interests, and lifestyle choices, body modification had also been used to label criminals, slaves, and convicts.Although in the late 20th century, most tattoos were on men, ranging from the stereotypical tattooed sailors and motorcycle bikers (eg, The Hells Angels in the 1960s) to 1980s gang members, now, tattoos are collections of colorful ornamentations for both women and men.Tattoos, piercing, and scarification are now commonplace among adolescents and young adults.

Although most (60%) students knew about HIV-related risks, less than half knew about possible infection with hepatitis C (38%), hepatitis B (34%), tetanus (34%), or about noninfectious complications (28%).Other feelings attributed to having a tattoo included feeling rebellious (25%), attractive or strong (21%), spiritual (16%), healthier (9%), more intelligent (8%), and athletic (5%).Estimates of tattooing and piercing among adolescents range by data source and age group.Scarification is the practice of intentionally irritating the skin to cause a permanent pattern of scar tissue.Studies have been conducted among international communities describing high rates of scarification, yet no studies on scarification have been reported from the United States.

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