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“Vampire facials” promoted by celebs are linked to new HIV cases

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A woman getting a non-vampire facial.

Enlarge / A woman getting a non-vampire facial. (credit: Getty | Sammy Dallal)

Health officials in New Mexico have identified new cases of HIV linked to tainted "vampire facials" performed at a bogus beauty clinic that was shut down five years ago. With their investigation reopened, officials are now renewing calls for anyone who went to the clinic to get tested for blood-borne pathogens.

Vampire facials are a popular cosmetic medical procedure in which a person's own blood is spun in a centrifuge to separate proteins and platelets, and the resulting platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is re-injected into the face via microneedles or micro-abrasions. The procedure is claimed to rejuvenate skin, despite little evidence backing the claims. Nevertheless, it has been endorsed and promoted by many wellness-minded celebrities, including Kim Kardashian (who later had regrets because it was painful, though she still touted it) and Gwyneth Paltrow, who had it done on screen for an episode of her Goop Netflix series.

In 2018, health officials in New Mexico got a tip that an infection may have been linked to the facials at the VIP Beauty Salon and Spa in Albuquerque. A subsequent inspection of the salon by the health department and the Barbers and Cosmetologists Board of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department "identified practices that could potentially spread blood-borne infections, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C to clients." The health department set up free testing for the spa's clients.

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