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CDC confirms HIV infections linked to 'vampire facials'

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said HIV transmission through cosmetic injection services via contaminated blood has not been documented before.
Coronavirus Outbreak
Posted at 12:39 PM, Apr 26, 2024

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said HIV transmission was likely in the cases of multiple clients of an unlicensed spa in New Mexico performing a platelet-rich plasma with microneedling cosmetic procedure, often referred to as a "vampire facial."

The CDC said that while there have been no known documented cases of HIV transmission through cosmetic injection services via contaminated blood, public health experts acknowledge that it is possible through unsterile injection practices. The health agency said that during the summer of 2018, New Mexico's Department of Health was made aware of a woman's HIV diagnosis and said she had no known HIV risk factors but reported having been exposed to needles during a cosmetic platelet-rich plasma microneedling facial during the spring of that year.

A person receives a facial treatment.

Science and Tech

'Vampire' facials linked to HIV cases in New Mexico

Scripps News Staff
9:20 AM, Jul 06, 2023

An investigation of the spa revealed four other clients and a sexual partner of one of the clients, who received an HIV infection diagnosis between 2018 and 2023.

They reported low behavioral risks for HIV transmission.

The VIP Spa in Albuquerque was closed in 2018 after state health department officials deemed it unsafe after an inspection. The spa owner and staff were accused of not properly cleaning, storing or labeling syringes. The owner of the spa was charged with practicing medicine without being licensed and was sentenced in 2022 to over three years in prison.

A total of at least five people with links to the spa have tested positive for HIV, a representative from the health department confirmed to Scripps News last year.

The CDC said inspectors were not allowed to collect specimens during their investigation because of jurisdiction rules. Fifty-nine clients were identified as being at risk for exposure, including 20 who received microneedling procedures and 39 who received other injection services, including injection procedures like botox.

Investigators said after cross-referencing the spa's client list with New Mexico's HIV registry, one client of the spa had received an HIV diagnosis in 2012.

The CDC said phone calls and other outreach were made to the spa and the community to encourage more testing.