Two People Have Been Diagnosed With HIV After Getting "Vampire Facials"

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Two people have been diagnosed with HIV after receiving a “vampire facial” cosmetic treatment at a spa in New Mexico last year.

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is now investigating the VIP Spa in Albuquerque and urging anyone who visited the spa between May and September 2018 to report for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C testing.

The two people who recently tested positive for HIV both received “injection-related procedures” at the VIP Spa and were found to have contracted the same strain of the virus. According to the NMDOH, these two factors increase the likelihood of the HIV infection being linked to the VIP Spa.

The spa was known for offering customers a “vampire facial”, also known as the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) facial. The procedure involves drawing blood from a patient and using a centrifuge to separates platelets from other blood components. After tiny needles are used to pierce holes in the skin, supposedly to speed up the absorption process, the platelet reduction is then slathered onto the face.

Platelets are little disk-shaped components of blood that your body uses to form clots and stop bleeding. Proponents of the “vampire facial” claim the treatment enriches the body with a high concentration of platelets, which helps to speed up healing. It’s most often used to treat physical injuries, particularly those affecting joints and ligaments. It gained public attention as a cosmetic treatment in 2013 after Kim Kardashian-West posted a photo on Instagram of her face covered in blood with the hashtag #VampireFacial.

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However, the scientific evidence to back up the miraculous claims of PRP is in very short supply. As this case shows, it can also come with some notable risks of infection.

Blood-borne viruses, such as HIV and hepatitis, can spread through exposure to infected blood or other body fluids. This most commonly occurs through sexual contact with an infected person or the use of needles that have been reused, not cleaned, or not handled properly.

The VIP Spa was shut down by the Department of Health on September 7, 2018, after an inspection found problems with the handling of needles. Now, health authorities are tasked with tracking down anybody who visited the spa between May and September 2018.

“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, Cabinet Secretary of NMDOH, said in a statement.

“Testing is important for everyone as there are effective treatments for HIV and many hepatitis infections.”

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