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Vampire Facial at Spa Leads to HIV Infections in Three Women

In 2018, the discovery of the first HIV case linked to the VIP Spa in Albuquerque triggered a response from the New Mexico Department of Health, which initiated free testing for individuals who underwent injections at the facility. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three women likely contracted HIV while receiving a procedure known as a "vampire facial" at this spa. This marks the first documented instances of HIV transmission during a cosmetic injection procedure.

A vampire facial, touted as a cost-effective and less invasive alternative to a facelift, involves drawing blood from a person's arm, separating platelets, and applying them to the face with microneedles. However, despite its affordability, the procedure poses serious health risks if performed in unsanitary conditions, as was the case at the now-closed VIP Spa. The CDC's report reveals that multiple individuals were likely infected with HIV through these facials.

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The initial case surfaced in 2018, prompting the New Mexico Department of Health to offer testing to anyone who received injections at the spa. Subsequent investigations led to the identification of unsanitary practices that could potentially spread blood-borne infections, resulting in the spa's closure. Last year, a former client tested positive for HIV, prompting the health department to reopen the investigation.

The CDC's report sheds light on the affected clients and the spa's inadequate practices. The first case involved a middle-aged woman with no history of injectable drug use, blood transfusions, or recent sexual contact with HIV-positive individuals. However, she did report receiving a vampire facial. Two other middle-aged women who underwent similar procedures in 2018 also tested positive for HIV.

The investigation revealed numerous violations at the spa, including operating without appropriate licenses and neglecting safety measures. Unlabeled blood tubes were found on the kitchen counter, and injectables were stored alongside food in the refrigerator. In 2022, the spa's owner pleaded guilty to five felony counts of practicing medicine without a license and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.

CDC and health department investigators identified 59 spa clients potentially exposed to HIV, with 20 having received vampire facials. Despite efforts, the original source of HIV contamination remains unknown. The CDC advises individuals considering injections to ensure providers are licensed, trained, and use FDA-approved products from reliable sources.

April 27, 2024 10:55 a.m. 4222

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