CDC Reports First Investigation of HIV Transmission via Cosmetic Injections

Three women tested positive for HIV after receiving vampire facials from a New Mexico salon


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a new report involving the three patients who were likely infected with HIV after receiving vampire facials at a now-shuttered New Mexico salon.

On April 25, the agency shared details about the investigation of VIP Spa in Albuquerque due to former clients receiving HIV infection diagnoses between 2018 and 2023, marking the first CDC investigation to associate HIV transmission with nonsterile cosmetic injections.

The first case was a woman, aged 40-50, who tested positive for HIV in 2018. At the time, she reported no use of injectable drugs, recent blood transfusions or recent sexual contact with someone with HIV. However, she did report getting a recent vampire facial at the salon.

Vampire facials use the client’s own blood pulled and re-inserted with micro-needling to refresh the skin on their face. The procedure gained attention in March 2013 when Kim Kardashian posted photos on Instagram after getting one.

Two additional cases in the CDC investigation were also women, aged 40-60, who both received vampire facials in 2018. One woman tested positive for HIV in 2018 during a routine evaluation for life insurance while the other woman received her diagnosis in 2023 after being hospitalized with an AIDS-related illness.

Related: Vampire Facials at New Mexico Spa Linked to Additional Cases of HIV

“These are people who had no known risks for HIV acquisition,” said CDC epidemiologist Anna Stadelman-Behar, the Washington Post reports. “It was a shock to them definitely.”

A joint investigation by the CDC and New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) revealed multiple unsafe infection control practices. At the VIP Spa, health officials found unlabeled tubes of blood on a kitchen counter, unlabeled tubes of blood and medical injectables (i.e., botox and lidocaine) in the kitchen refrigerator next to food, and unwrapped syringes in drawers, on counters, and discarded in trash cans.

Following the investigation, the agency states that HIV transmission likely occurred following vampire facials at the New Mexico salon. However, it said that the source of contamination remains unknown.

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Google Maps VIP Salon and Spa
Google Maps VIP Salon and Spa

Related: Are Vampire Facials Still Safe After 2 People Who Got Them Tested Positive for HIV?

New Mexico health officials first warned clients who got a vampire facial at the Albuquerque spa to get tested for HIV and hepatitis in September 2018, after the first reported infection.

The NMDOH immediately shut down VIP Spa and the initial investigation found that their injected treatments, including vampire facials and Botox, could spread blood-borne infections like HIV, and hepatitis B and C.

At the time, NMDOH epidemiologist Dr. Michael Landen said they were alarmed by how VIP Spa stored, handled and disposed of needles. “That’s concerning, because if needles aren’t handled appropriately, you could potentially increase the risk of a blood-borne infection,” Landen told KOAT News.

Maria Ramos de Ruiz, the owner of VIP Spa, said that they only use disposable needles. “I open them in front of my clients every time they come,” she told the outlet.

More than 100 former clients were tested during the initial investigation in 2018 and 2019.

In April 2021, Ramos de Ruiz was charged individual counts of racketeering and fraud, as well as five counts of practicing medicine without a license, six counts of money laundering, four counts of tax evasion and seven counts of willful failure to collect and pay taxes.

In June 2022 she was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

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