How ‘vampire facials’ infected three women with HIV

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A Cautionary Tale: The Risks of Unregulated Cosmetic Procedures

The recent news of women contracting HIV after receiving a “vampire facial” has raised serious concerns about the safety of certain cosmetic treatments. This alarming incident sheds light on the potential dangers that can arise when these procedures are not performed under proper medical supervision.

What is a Vampire Facial?

The “vampire facial,” a colloquial term for platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, involves drawing a patient’s blood, separating the platelet-rich plasma using a centrifuge, and then injecting it back into the face. This treatment is touted for its ability to stimulate collagen and elastin production, potentially reducing the appearance of wrinkles and acne scars. The treatment could cost anywhere between $1,000 to $2,000 (£1,600) at a licensed medical spa, according to estimates from providers online.

Kim Kardashian posted a photo of herself after receiving a “vampire facial” in 2013

In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) became aware of several women in New Mexico who had tested positive for HIV after receiving this treatment at an unlicensed spa. The CDC’s investigation uncovered a disturbing lack of proper infection control practices at the facility, including unsanitary storage of blood samples and medical equipment.

The CDC’s findings were alarming – not the women infected with HIV, but the spa was also linked to five total cases of the virus, including a man who had a romantic relationship with one of the affected women. The late stage of the infections in the couple indicated they had contracted the disease prior to the facial treatment.

This incident serves as a cautionary tale for anyone considering cosmetic procedures. While PRP therapy and other treatments can be effective when performed correctly, the risks can be severe if proper protocols are not followed.

Experts emphasize that the key to safety lies in thoroughly vetting the provider. Consumers should research the facility, ensure it is licensed and accredited, and observe how medical equipment and supplies are handled. Reputable providers will adhere to strict sterilization and infection control measures to protect their clients.

Unfortunately, the vampire facial incident is not an isolated case. Just last week, US health officials warned of a botulism outbreak linked to counterfeit Botox injections, which have sickened 22 people across 11 states. Botulism is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness, underscoring the importance of only receiving treatments from licensed, trustworthy professionals.

As the demand for cosmetic enhancements continues to grow, it is crucial that consumers educate themselves and take the necessary precautions to safeguard their health. By doing so, they can enjoy the benefits of these treatments without risking their well-being.

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