HIV Cases Linked to Spa Treatments

A recent report has raised alarm bells about the potential health risks associated with certain cosmetic procedures, including Botox injections and “vampire facials.” The report, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), links these procedures to HIV transmission due to unsanitary conditions at a spa in New Mexico. This marks the first time such a connection has been made.

Three women who underwent these novel cosmetic procedures tested positive for HIV, despite having no other risk factors for the disease. The report concluded that the procedures were the likely cause of their infections. Vampire facials, a popular beauty trend, involve drawing blood from the client, extracting platelets, and then injecting them back into the patient’s skin using microneedles. The procedure is believed to rejuvenate the skin and reduce acne and wrinkles.

The CDC report estimates that as many as 59 clients could have been exposed to HIV through these procedures at an unlicensed Albuquerque business that failed to adhere to proper safety measures. The report did not disclose the name of the clinic, but local news outlet KRQE-TV identified it as VIP Spa.

The owner of VIP Spa, Maria Ramos de Ruiz, was found guilty on multiple felony charges for practicing without a license in 2022. She was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. The New Mexico Department of Health had previously closed down her spa in 2018 after discovering unlabeled blood tubes on a kitchen counter and injectables stored in a kitchen refrigerator alongside food. De Ruiz is currently serving her sentence at Springer Correctional Center.

In addition to the three HIV cases, two other infections have been linked to the clinic, either directly or indirectly, according to a department spokesperson. A recent HIV case connected to the clinic has prompted the department to advise former clients to get tested for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, even if they have previously tested negative.

Dr. Laura Parajon, the deputy secretary of the health department, emphasized the importance of spreading awareness about the risks associated with unlicensed spa facilities. She urged anyone who received any injection-related services at VIP Spa to get tested, assuring them that the testing is free and confidential.

The CDC has issued a warning against seeking treatments and procedures at unlicensed spa facilities, highlighting the potential health risks involved.