Three women diagnosed with HIV after 'vampire facials' at unlicensed clinic in New Mexico

Three women have been diagnosed with HIV after getting "vampire facials" in what is believed to be the first time the virus has been contracted through a cosmetic procedure using needles.

The diagnosis of a woman in her 40s, who had the treatment at an unlicensed clinic in New Mexico, triggered an investigation into the spa.

It was found that from 2018 to 2023 the spa allegedly reused disposable equipment intended for one-time use, a report by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said.

The risk of passing on HIV from contaminated blood through unsterile injection is well known, but the CDC said this is the first documented case of infections involving cosmetic services.

Once diagnosed, the virus can cause damage to the cells in the immune system, affecting how a person fights everyday infections and disease.

There is currently no cure but very effective drug treatments.

A "vampire facial", also known as a platelet-rich plasma microneedling procedure, involves using a client's own blood, separating its components and using tiny needles to inject plasma into the face to rejuvenate the skin.

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian once underwent the procedure during an episode of the Keeping Up with the Kardashians spin-off, Kim and Kourtney Take Miami, in 2013.

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Many other cosmetic procedures also involve needles, including Botox to rid wrinkles or plump lips or getting a tattoo.

The New Mexico spa closed in 2018 after the investigation by the state's health department was first launched.

Its owner was prosecuted for practising medicine without a licence.

The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality report said the incident shows how important it is for customers to ask a business that offers cosmetic procedures using needles about their infection control practices.

It also noted that the investigation was slowed by the spa's poor record keeping and said businesses providing such services should keep better records in case clients need to be contacted later.