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Vampire' facial spa in Albuquerque may have exposed clients to HIV, hepatitis risk

New Mexico health officials closed Albuquerque's VIP Spa, and urged its clients who received a "vampire facial" or other injection-related procedures to get tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C. (GULSHAN KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

New Mexico health officials are urging clients who received a "vampire facial" or other injection-related procedures at Albuquerque's VIP Spa to get tested for HIV and hepatitis B and hepatitis C. The announcement came after heath officials indefinitely closed the spa.

What happened?

The closure came following an inspection by the New Mexico Department of Health, the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department, and the Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists Board on Sept. 7. According to an announcement from the health department, the inspection was prompted by a client who may have contracted an infection during a procedure at the business. Additional information about the infection was not revealed.

What is a vampire facial?

Beauty treatments offered by the spa included the so-called vampire facial. The procedure extracts platelets from a client's own blood and injects it into the face. The facial purportedly improves the complexion.

During the inspection, health officials identified alleged practices that could potentially spread blood-borne infections to clients.

Dr. Michael Landen, a New Mexico Department of Health epidemiologist, told KOAT-TV that one red flag upon inspecting the spa was the storage, handling and disposal of needles.

"That's concerning, because if needles aren't handled appropriately, you could potentially increase the risk of a blood-borne infection," Landen said.

The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department said the spa's owner did not have a licensed professional to draw blood.

The health warning pertains to clients who visited the spa in May or June.

How did the spa owner respond?

The owner of VIP Spa told the TV station that only disposable needles were used.

"I open them in front of my clients every time they come," owner Luly Ruiz said.

The health department is offering free testing for clients of the spa at the Midtown Public Health Office. Ruiz told KOAT she is cooperating with state health officials and encourages any clients who are concerned to take advantage of the free testing.

"I want everybody to be sure, everybody to be happy and to know they don't have anything," Ruiz said.

Dr. Michael Dobryansky, a plastic surgeon at the Long Island Plastic Surgical Group, told CNN that proper training is required to become licensed in a complex procedure like the vampire facial.

"So for patients, when they are investigating places for getting these types of procedures, they need to make sure that the places are actually vampire certified, because there is specific training and there is specific maintenance of certification that that organization requires of its providers in order to be able to both perform the procedures and continuously offer them to patients," said Dobryansky, who is trained in the procedure. He was not involved in the New Mexico case.

The state health department indicated it is not aware of any new reports of blood-borne infections after the spa’s closure.

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