Two Clients Diagnosed With HIV After ‘Vampire Facials’ at Now Shutdown US Spa

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Two people who received injection-related facials at a US spa have now been infected with the same strain of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to New Mexico health officials.

In a Monday statement by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH), officials encouraged clients of the VIP Spa in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to get free and confidential testing for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C at testing sites after two cases of HIV infections among the spa's clients came to light. 

The clients received "vampire facials" at the VIP Spa between May and September 2018, according to the press release.

​During a "vampire facial," a small amount of a customer's blood is drawn and then spun in a centrifuge to extract the patient's plasma, which contains platelets and growth factors that stimulate cell production. The plasma is then re-injected into the client's face using a device called a micro-needling pen. If the micro-needling pen, for instance, isn't properly sterilized between multiple clients' procedures, then customers could be exposed to blood-borne diseases.

​"The theory is that the platelets and growth factors initiate a healing response which, over time, rejuvenates the skin," Dr. Darren McKeown recently told the Independent. 

© Instagram/kimkardashianKim Kardashian, showing off 'vampire facial' in 2013
Kim Kardashian, showing off 'vampire facial' in 2013 - Sputnik International
Kim Kardashian, showing off 'vampire facial' in 2013

"It is controversial, however, because the evidence used to show that it works is conflicting at best. Some studies have shown it to be effective, whilst others have shown it to have no effect whatsoever," she added. 

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According to the NMDOH press release, the only potential exposure to HIV among the two HIV-infected clients was the injection-related procedure they underwent at the spa.

"Additional laboratory testing on specimens from the two clients indicates recent infection with the same HIV virus — increasing the likelihood that the two HIV infections may have resulted from a procedure at the VIP Spa," the press release states.

"While over 100 VIP Spa clients have already been tested, NMDOH is reaching out to ensure that testing and counseling services are available for individuals who received injection related services at the VIP Spa," Kathy Kunkel, NMDOH cabinet secretary, wrote in the release. "Testing is important for everyone, as there are effective treatments for HIV and many hepatitis infections." 

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The VIP Spa was shut down in September 2018 after an investigation by the NMDOH, the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department and the Barbers and Cosmetologists Board found that the spa was engaging in unclean practices that could spread blood-borne diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, to customers. The Regulation and Licensing Department noted that the spa did not employ a licensed professional to draw blood.

Dr. Dean Bair, the medical director at Bair Medical Spa in Albuquerque, New Mexico, recently told KOAT News that people should only trust licensed medical facilities when receiving vampire facials or any other injection-related procedures, for that matter.

"Check the certification. Make sure they are using proper technique," Bair warned.

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