A Renewed Investigation of Celeb-Praised 'Vampire Facial'

New Mexico DOH says platelet-rich plasma facials have been tied to HIV cases at closed spa
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2023 9:45 AM CDT

Albuquerque's VIP Beauty Salon and Spa has been shuttered for nearly five years, but it keeps making headlines—this time, for yet another HIV case linked to its infamous "vampire facial." Per USA Today, the New Mexico Department of Health is urging past clients who may have received an "injection-related service" at the spa—such as Botox injections or the vampire facial—to come in for free, confidential testing for blood-carried infections such as HIV or hepatitis. Two HIV cases linked to VIP Spa had been found during initial testing in 2019, shortly after the spa had closed down following a state inspection, but now, the state DOH confirms to the Messenger that a total of five HIV infections in the state claim a "direct or indirect connection" to the salon.

The DOH reopened its probe into the spa after a report came in earlier this year that tied an HIV case to VIP's vampire facial, another name for platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections. In a previous report, NBC News detailed how the process worked: First, the patient's blood is drawn, then it's spun in a centrifuge to filter out the red cells. Finally, the remaining plasma, replete with nutrients, is then injected or microneedled into the patient's facial skin. Dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban told NBC at the time that PRP facials were "outstanding" for helping to improve skin texture, discoloration, fine lines and wrinkles, and acne scarring—all for around a cost of between $600 and $2,000 per treatment, per the Messenger.

Shamban said that the needles used for this process are single use, but that in the New Mexico cases, perhaps a needle was reused, or blood lingered on the tool that holds the needle. NBC notes that the vampire facial concept took off years back, thanks to celebrity endorsements from the likes of Kim Kardashian and model Bar Refaeli (Kardashian later said she regretted getting one). The spa's owner, meanwhile, pleaded guilty last year to negligence and was sentenced to three and a half years behind bars. The DOH, which is hosting two more free testing days on Saturday and next Tuesday, says even those who have been tested in the past should come to be retested. Former clients can call 505-479-2164 or check out https://nmhivguide.org for more information. (More HIV stories.)

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