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Two ‘vampire facial’ clients infected with HIV

The exterior of the now shuttered VIP Space in Albuquerque. IMAGE COURTESY KOAT

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

The New Mexico Department of Health said Monday that two clients of a now-closed Albuquerque spa have been diagnosed with HIV infections that may have arisen from their “vampire facial” injections.

VIP Spa, registered as VIP Beauty Salon & Spa, was at 809 Tijeras NW. The business closed in September after the Health Department claimed the spa in Downtown Albuquerque wasn’t properly licensed and inspectors from several agencies reported problems with the storage, handling and disposal of needles.

A vampire facial is a procedure in which a provider injects the client’s own blood into the client’s face as a way to rejuvenate the skin.

Dr. Tierney Murphy, a medical epidemiologist with the Health Department, told the Journal that the agency believes there is a “high likelihood” that the HIV infections resulted from the procedure in the two cases. She said she is not aware of any other documented cases of HIV transmission in this manner.

The spa’s owner could not be reached for comment Monday.

In a news release, the Health Department said it is investigating two cases of HIV infection among VIP Spa clients who received injection procedures from May to September 2018. The clients had the same HIV virus and the department has not identified possible exposures other than the procedures, according to the department.

“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,” said a statement by Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “Testing is important for everyone as there are effective treatments for HIV and many hepatitis infections.”

Tierney said none of the individuals tested has been found to have hepatitis.

Free testing is available at the South Valley Health Commons, 2001 El Centro Familiar SW, on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed from noon to 1 p.m.); and Casa de Salud Family Medical Office, 1608 Isleta SW, on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Testing is free and confidential. For questions, or for an appointment for testing other than on Tuesday or Thursday, contact the Midtown Public Health Office at 505-670-8615 during regular business hours. After 5 p.m. or on weekends, call the New Mexico Department of Health at 505-827-0006.