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Patients Contract HIV at Unlicensed Medical Spa: A Warning for All of Us


There are a lot of seemingly routine procedures at health spas that can cause serious injury. Even manicures and pedicures can cause serious injury, and lead to infection, some of which have led to amputation of limbs.

But there’s a new trend in health spas that is now causing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to issue a warning to the public.  So-called vampire facials, which, according to the CDC, carry the very real risk of transmitting the HIV virus.

What’s a Vampire Facial?

Vampire facials are actually plasma that is delivered into the face by micro needles. Blood is drawn, plasma is separated, and then re-injected into the skin. The result is supposed to rejuvenate skin and reduce or eliminate acne scars.

The government is reporting that recipients of this procedure at one spa in New Mexico were recently exposed to HIV.

The report was from a woman who had no other risk factors for contraction of the virus, but she had undergone the facial procedure. On further investigation, more victims were revealed; it is believed that four people are thought to have contracted the disease at the spa from the procedures, along with one who was an intimate partner with one of the victims but who had never undergone the procedure himself.

The CDC says that this is the first known case of HIV transmission related to cosmetic procedures that involve injections. And, according to most reports, the vampire facial procedure is safe, if done properly and with proper sterilization techniques.

The spa where the victims contracted the virus, was an unlicensed facility; the facility actually had failed previous health inspections. The owner of the spa was brought up on criminal charges as well.

Be Wary and Ask Questions

Many facilities that offer services like this one aren’t always forthcoming about the statuses of their licenses. And, as new cosmetic procedures gain popularity, those looking to profit from it often get into the business without following the strict procedures established to ensure proper sterilization of equipment.

Anybody thinking of any procedure involving needles or injections should always ask what precautions and procedures are used to ensure safety and prevent transmission of bloodborne viruses, as well as asking who will actually be performing whatever procedure is being done.

Ask About Licenses

Avoid clinics or spas that have non-licensed professionals do procedures, even if they tell you that having a license isn’t necessary, or legally required. Remember that a license doesn’t always mean someone is legally allowed to perform a given technique. For example, a cosmetologist needs a license, but even with a license, he or she is not legally allowed to perform medical procedures.

You should ask these questions and do your due diligence in any procedure where there is the risk of transmission or contact with any body fluid—not just blood.

In Tennessee, cosmetologists are required to wear name badges and those name badges should match up with a license that should be visible to the public.  If your cosmetologist isn’t wearing a name tag, that’s a good sign that they might not be licensed.  So protect yourself – ask to see their license!  It should be right there at their workplace.

Injured at a spa or medical facility? Ask us about getting compensation for your injuries. Call the Knoxville personal injury attorneys at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today for help.




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