May 24, 2011
At the Australian Defense Force's main hospital unit in the Middle East, failure to properly sterilize surgical equipment may have exposed soldiers and contractors stationed in Iraq to blood-borne diseases including HIV and hepatitis, according to a Fairfax newspapers report. The breach occurred at the al-Minhad air base in the United Arab Emirates from February 2009 to August 2010; however, personnel were informed only last week. ADF's memo says the risk of infection is low, particularly given that force members received hepatitis vaccinations. Measures have since been put in place to prevent such errors in the future, wrote Major General P.V. Alexander, ADF's surgeon-general.