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The CDC has reported the first documented instances of HIV transmission through cosmetic needle procedures

Cosmetic Needle (Via Cathy Jones/Shutterstock)

Three women who were diagnosed with HIV after receiving “vampire facial” treatments at an unlicensed New Mexico medical spa are believed to be the first documented cases of people contracting the virus through a cosmetic procedure involving needles, according to federal health officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last week in its Morbidity and Mortality Report that an investigation spanning from 2018 to 2023 found evidence suggesting the clinic reused disposable equipment meant for single use.

While HIV transmission from contaminated blood through unsterile injections is a well-known risk, the report highlighted that this is the first documented instance of likely infections linked to cosmetic services.

Many popular cosmetic procedures, including Botox for smoothing wrinkles and fillers for enhancing lips, use needles.

Human T-Cell (Steve Derulo/Shutterstock)

A “vampire facial,” which involves extracting a client’s blood, separating its components, and injecting plasma into the face with tiny needles to rejuvenate the skin, falls into this category. Tattoos also involve needle use.

The New Mexico Department of Health began investigating the spa in the summer of 2018 after a woman in her 40s tested positive for HIV despite having no known risk factors. She reported exposure to needles during a procedure at the clinic earlier that spring.

The spa ceased operations in the fall of 2018 when the investigation commenced, and its owner faced legal action for practicing medicine without a license.

The report emphasized the importance of enforcing infection control measures at establishments offering cosmetic procedures involving needles. It also noted challenges in the investigation due to inadequate record keeping and recommended that businesses maintain better records to facilitate contacting clients if needed in the future.

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