Vampire Facials at New Mexico Spa Gave Two People HIV, Now Health Officials Are Urging Clients to Get Tested

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is urging people who visited a now-closed Albuquerque spa to get themselves tested for HIV after two people contracted the virus following a so-called vampire facial.

The NMDOH is strongly encouraging people who received injection-related procedures at the VIP Spa on Tijeras Avenue to take advantage of free HIV testing. Two people were found to have contracted the virus after visiting the spa between May and September 2018.

The clients who contracted HIV had received a vampire facial at the spa, which involves injecting a person's blood into their own face to improve the skin.

"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, said in a statement. "Testing is important for everyone, as there are effective treatments for HIV and many hepatitis infections."

The VIP Spa closed in September 2018 after a joint investigation by the NMDOH and the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department and the New Mexico Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists found the spa's practices could spread blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis B and C.

The spa did not have a license to draw blood, which only a medical professional can do. "I think it's absolutely paramount to make sure that that is occurring. This is just the worst example of what can go wrong if you don't," Dean Bair, medical director at Albuquerque's Bair Medical Spa, told news station KOAT.

Inspectors also found problems with the spa's handling and disposing of needles used in treatments.

Bair warned that people need to be cautious when visiting spas that use needles. "Check the certification. Make sure they are using proper technique," he said. "Watch how people handle the blood. If it looks like it's shaky, it's probably shaky."

The vampire facial involves drawing blood and placing it into a centrifuge to separate the platelet rich plasma from the red blood cells, then reinjecting it back into a person's face. The facial gained worldwide attention in 2013 after Kim Kardashian posted on social media a photo of herself undergoing the procedure.

Two sites in Albuquerque are offering free testing for HIV. They are the South Valley Health Commons, 2001 El Centro Familiar Boulevard, on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed from 12 to 1 p.m.) and the Casa de Salud Family Medical Office, 1608 Isleta Boulevard SW, Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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Vampire Facials at New Mexico Spa Gave Two People HIV, Now Health Officials Are Urging Clients to Get Tested | U.S.