There May Be a Scary Link Between Vampire Facials and HIV

People who visited one spa in New Mexico may have ended up with more than just glowing skin—they might have contracted HIV. 

That’s the warning coming from the New Mexico Department of Health, who are urging customers of the VIP Spa, in Albuquerque, to consider getting tested for HIV after two clients tested positive for HIV.

“NMDOH is investigating two cases of HIV infection among VIP Spa clients who received injection-related procedures at the VIP Spa between May and September 2018,” a statement from the NMDOH says.

Health officials are specifically encouraging people who received a vampire facial at the establishment to get tested for HIV. The two clients who are HIV positive also have the same HIV virus type, which increases the likelihood that the infections are the result of a procedure at the spa they both went to.

“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. Testing is important for everyone as there are effective treatments for HIV and many hepatitis infections,” Kathy Kunkel, cabinet secretary at the NMDOH, said in the statement.

You might be wondering how an unsuspecting person getting a facial at a spa could end up with a blood-borne infection like HIV. First, you need to understand exactly what a vampire facial is.

When you get a vampire facial, small amounts of blood—your blood, that is—are injected into the skin of your face. Other names for the facials are PRP facials (platelet-rich plasma facials) or PRP injections. Kim Kardashian famously posted a photo of herself trying one in 2013.

The treatment seems a little extreme, but it might be helpful to your skin, according to Bruce E. Katz, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. “[The PRP] stimulates collagen, new blood supply and vessels, and even hair follicles,” Dr. Katz previously told Health.

Dr. Katz isn’t the only physician who believes PRP facials have benefits. “PRP can be combined with microneedling to improve large pores, acne scars, and fine lines,” Debra Jaliman, MD, another New York City-based dermatologist, previously told Health.

If having your own blood injected into your face sounds appealing, make sure you pick the right place to try the treatment. “Any persons desiring cosmetic services involving needle injections should verify the services are being provided by a licensed medical provider,” warns the NMDOH statement.

The VIP Spa was closed in September of last year, according to the statement, after inspectors, “identified practices [there] that could potentially spread blood-borne infections, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C to clients.”

That said, trying a vampire facial might be worth your while if you’re stressing over your skin. But make sure you book an appointment only with trusted, licensed professionals when a treatment calls for needle infections in your face.

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