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U.S. News

VA Patient Tests HIV-Positive After Clinic Mistake

April 7, 2009

On Friday, the Veterans Affairs Department confirmed the first positive HIV test since it warned veterans who received care at three of its facilities they may be at risk. The department previously reported 16 hepatitis cases, but cautioned there was no way to prove the infections are linked to improperly sterilized endoscopy equipment at its facilities in Miami, Augusta, Ga., and Murfreesboro, Tenn. In an e-mail sent late in the day, the VA said it is investigating "the possibility of such a relationship."

The testing alert was sent to more than 10,000 veterans following the discovery that the three sites failed to properly sterilize the equipment between treatments. Veterans who underwent colonoscopies at the Miami and Murfreesboro hospitals, as well as those who received care at Augusta's ear, nose, and throat facility, should be tested for blood-borne infections, the VA said. To date, less than a third -- 3,174 -- have been notified of their results. The department is still trying to locate patients whose warning letters were returned.

The VA did not say where the patient who tested HIV-positive was treated. To date, five veterans have tested positive for hepatitis B and 11 for hepatitis C. No infections have been reported from Miami.

The VA said it is still looking into whether veterans treated at its other 150 hospitals may have been exposed due to the same mistake prior to a nationwide infection control training effort. The department is certain the sanitization error was corrected in all of its facilities by March 14, a spokesperson said.

The endoscopy equipment used at the three sites is made by Olympus American Inc. The company said in a statement it is assisting the VA in addressing problems, which involve "inadvertently neglecting to appropriately reprocess a specific auxiliary water tube."

Back to other news for April 2009

Adapted from:
Associated Press
04.07.2009; Bill Poovey

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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