The so-called vampire facials that have been touted by celebrities for ostensible rejuvenation benefits have been linked to two cases of HIV in New Mexico, according to health officials.
The New Mexico Department of Health first warned that clients of the since-closed VIP Spa in Albuquerque should be tested for possible blood-borne infections—including HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C—last fall after an inspection found the spa’s practices could have put some clients at risk.
On Monday, the NMDOH said that “laboratory testing on specimens from the two clients indicates recent infection with the same HIV virus, increasing the likelihood that the two HIV infections may have resulted from a procedure at the VIP Spa.”
Officials urged anyone who had a procedure involving a needle injection at VIP Spa between May and September of last year to undergo free testing for the viruses. Free testing sites include the South Valley Health Commons and Casa de Salud Family Medical Office, both located in Albuquerque.
“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,” NMDOH Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel said in a statement.
Dr. Barbara Sturm of Molecular Cosmetics has been credited as a member of the team that developed the trend. (Her brand sells a $1,400 blood cream.) The procedure has been championed by Gwyneth Paltrow’s controversial lifestyle brand Goop, which describes a blood facial as a process in which “healing factors from a patient’s own blood are re-injected into skin, rejuvenating it in much the way PRP treatments help heal joints and injuries in orthopedics and sports medicine.”
The vampire or blood facial, as it’s sometimes called, has won clients in celebrities from Kim Kardashian (who later claimed she regretted it) to Victoria Beckham. Kardashian, who wrote in a blog post last year that she was not able to take painkillers before her own procedure because she learned she was pregnant, described it as “the most painful thing ever.”
NMDOH this week urged anyone seeking cosmetic procedures involving needles to make sure that they’re being done by a licensed medical professional.