The New Mexico Department of Health is now encouraging anyone who received treatment from a downtown Albuquerque spa to get tested. Two clients of the now-shuttered spa have tested positive for the same HIV virus, increasing the likelihood they got it from the same procedure.
When patients of the VIP Spa first learned of blood born illnesses that likely spread from a procedure there, they were terrified. “More recently in this year, we were notified of a second infection,” said Dr. Tierney Murphy, New Mexico Department of Health.
Now, with two confirmed cases of HIV, the Department of Health has issued an alert to anyone who may have had an “injection-related procedure” at the spa. That includes procedures like the vampire facial, which stars like Kim Kardashian have had done.
The procedure takes samples of your own blood, extracts the plasma, then injects it back into your face with needles. “The likelihood that these resulted from a procedure at the spa are high,” said Dr. Murphy.
The Department of Health says the aesthetician running the business was using unsafe practices that could spread infections like HIV, and Hepatitis B and C. So far, more than 130 former clients have come forward to get tested. “That’s way beyond her scope of practice as an aesthetician, so that would not be something that we would even license,” said Kathy Ortiz, Deputy Director for Boards and Commissions.
The Regulation and Licensing Department submitted a cease and desist order on the business last fall. Monday, the building looks far different then it did, with no sign the business was ever there. “First off, she didn’t have a license, so that was basically why we were able to close the establishment,” said Ortiz.
She said the Regulation and Licensing Department is required to do inspections like this every 18 months. They had previously inspected the VIP Spa owner, but not at that location. “We did inspect her prior to, but not at that location. She had a license and was located at a different location and we did inspect at that time,” said Ortiz.
The Department of Health warns anyone who is considering any services involving injections to verify they are being done by a licensed medical provider.
Two sites are offering free testing services. The South Valley Health Commons located at 2001 El Centro Familiar SW, is open Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Casa de Salud Family Medical Office located at 1608 Isleta Blvd SW, is open on Thursdays from 8:00 am to 7 p.m.
For questions about NMDOH free and confidential laboratory testing and counseling services for clients of the VIP Spa or for an appointment for testing other than on Tuesday or Thursday, please contact the Midtown Public Health Office at (505) 670-8615 during regular business hours. After 5 p.m. or on weekends, contact the New Mexico Department of Health at (505) 827-0006.