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CDC Identifies First Documented Cases of HIV Transmission via Cosmetic Needles

Federal health officials have identified three women diagnosed with HIV after undergoing “vampire facial” procedures at an unlicensed medical spa in New Mexico. These cases mark the first documented instances of HIV transmission through a cosmetic procedure involving needles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report, released last week, detailed an investigation spanning from 2018 to 2023 into the New Mexico clinic. The investigation revealed that the clinic had reportedly reused disposable equipment meant for single use, leading to the transmission of HIV among patients.

While HIV transmission through contaminated blood via unsterile injections is a known risk, this report represents the first documented cases of probable infections linked to cosmetic services.

Cosmetic procedures often utilize needles, including popular treatments such as Botox injections for wrinkle reduction and fillers for lip enhancement. The “vampire facial,” also known as platelet-rich plasma microneedling, involves drawing a patient’s blood, separating its components, and using tiny needles to inject plasma into the face to enhance skin rejuvenation. Additionally, tattooing procedures rely on the use of needles.

The investigation into the New Mexico spa commenced in the summer of 2018 following reports of an HIV-positive woman in her 40s with no known risk factors. She disclosed exposure to needles during a procedure at the spa earlier that spring. Subsequently, the spa ceased operations in the fall of 2018 as the investigation unfolded, and its owner faced legal repercussions for practicing medicine without a license.

The CDC report underscores the critical importance of implementing infection control practices at establishments offering cosmetic procedures involving needles. It emphasizes the need for meticulous record-keeping practices among such businesses to facilitate swift and effective contact tracing if necessary.

Furthermore, the investigation was hindered by inadequate record-keeping practices, highlighting the necessity for businesses providing cosmetic services to maintain comprehensive records for future reference.

In conclusion, the identification of HIV transmission through cosmetic procedures underscores the imperative for stringent infection control measures and meticulous record-keeping practices in the cosmetic industry. By adhering to these standards, businesses can mitigate the risk of infectious disease transmission and safeguard the well-being of their clientele.

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