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Two HIV positive after getting 'vampire facial'

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Image: The VIP Spa on Tijeras Avenue in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The VIP Spa on Tijeras Avenue in Albuquerque, New Mexico. -
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At least two clients of a shuttered New Mexico day spa tested HIV positive, a state health official said, possibly from receiving a "vampire facial."

The two people were infected at VIP Spa in Albuquerque between May and September 2018, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

The infections came via "injection related procedures," state regulators said in a statement. The health department did not elaborate.

But NBC affiliate KOB reported that the procedure in question is the so-called "vampire facial"— when blood is drawn from a client's body and then re-injected into his or her face.

State health officials fear there might be more people who could test positive for HIV, and hepatitis B and C.

"While over 100 VIP Spa clients have already been tested, NMDOH is reaching out to ensure that testing and counseling services are available for individuals who received injection related services at the VIP Spa," said state Secretary of Health Kathy Kunkel. "Testing is important for everyone as there are effective treatments for HIV and many hepatitis infections."

The procedure has been a trendy one in recent years with celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, endorsing it. Kardashian West posted a picture of herself on Instagram after receiving it in 2013 — though the reality star has since said she regrets undergoing those injections.

The procedure allegedly stimulatesnew collagen production.

VIP Spa closed on Sept. 7 last year after state investigators "identified practices that could potentially spread blood-borne infections, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C to clients," according to the state health department.

The spa's owner, Maria "Luly" Ruiz could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday. But when the HIV scare first came to light last year, Ruiz told KOB she was cooperating with investigators and had turned over her client list to the state.

"I just talked to them today and if I have to stop doing it, or something that I have to change it, I will change it. Happily, I'll do it," said Ruiz.

A trade association for day spas put the onus on clients to decide which procedures are safe.

The International Spa Association said in a statement to NBC News on Tuesday that "it is imperative that spa-goers seek licensed professionals who adhere to safe practices and make their client's health a top priority."

"The International Spa Association encourages all spa-goers to do their homework and be their own health advocate for any procedure they have done," the group added.

The state of New Mexico has asked clients of the spa to come to one of two medical offices in Albuquerque for free and confidential testing.