Can You Get HIV From Cosmetic Procedures?

HIV can only be transmitted in certain ways from person to person. It can only be transmitted through certain bodily fluids that contain the virus. It cannot be transmitted through the air or saliva.1,2

In most cases, HIV is transmitted through unprotected sex or shared drug injection equipment, like needles. But in some rare cases, it can be transmitted through other activities. There are some known cases of HIV transmitted through needles during cosmetic procedures.1,2

What types of cosmetic procedures are linked to HIV?

In 2024, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) linked 3 people with HIV to a spa in New Mexico. All 3 people received a “vampire facial.” This is also called a platelet-rich plasma microneedling facial. Vampire facials may rejuvenate skin and reduce wrinkles and scarring.2,3

In a vampire facial, your blood is drawn and separated into plasma and cells. The plasma is then injected back into your face. It is important to use sterile or disposable needles for this step.2,3

An investigation found that all 3 people had a similar strain of HIV. A linking factor was that all 3 women had been to the same spa. The investigation also found that the spa reused equipment that was meant to be disposable. Reusing equipment means a person can be exposed to HIV in someone else’s blood. These are the first known cases of HIV transmission from cosmetic services.2,3

Other cosmetic services that use needles also have the potential to transmit HIV. These include:2,3

  • Botox injections
  • Lip fillers
  • Piercings
  • Tattoos

But no cases of HIV transmission have been linked to these services.2,3

Quick Quiz

The CDC recommends that everyone who ________ gets an HIV test.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids from someone who has HIV. The fluid must enter the bloodstream through an open cut, injection, or contact with a mucous membrane. Examples of mucous membranes are the:1,4

  • Rectum
  • Vagina
  • Mouth

In most cases, HIV is transmitted through unprotected sex or sharing drug equipment. It can be transmitted during anal or vaginal sex. Drug equipment that can transmit HIV includes needles, syringes, or cookers. A mother can also transmit HIV to her baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.1,4

Other ways HIV can be transmitted are much less common. They include:1,4

  • Accidental needle pricks for healthcare workers
  • Giving oral sex, especially if you have mouth sores
  • Receiving blood transfusions or organ transplants
  • Being bitten by someone with HIV (no risk if the skin is not broken)
  • Deep, open-mouthed kissing, if both partners have mouth sores
  • Food contamination (The only known cases involve prechewed food from a caregiver. You cannot get HIV from food that someone with HIV handled.)

This or That

When facing a new HIV-related symptom or condition, what do you do first?

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