One case of HIV reported from Augusta VA

More testing among veterans exposed to improperly sterilized equipment at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center revealed more infections, including an unconfirmed case of HIV.

The Department of Veterans Affairs posted an update Friday on the test results of the patients, who were exposed to endoscopic equipment that was cleaned with the wrong solution. In Augusta, this happened to 1,069 patients treated in the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic between January and November 2008.

At VA hospitals in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and in Miami, the problem stretched back five years and involves nearly 10,000 more patients. The VA said all of those potentially exposed in Augusta have been notified and all but 81 have responded, with 13 declining testing.

The results are back on 783 patients in Augusta, although the VA said it could not be certain of the number tested because some patients may have been tested at other clinics. Of those, 671 have been notified of the results.

In what the VA is calling “unverified positive tests,” there have been one case of hepatitis B, one case of HIV and five cases of hepatitis C among those tested in Augusta. At all three clinics, the testing has turned up three cases of HIV, 19 cases of hepatitis C and six cases of hepatitis B.

“These are not necessarily linked to any endoscopy issues and the evaluation continues,” the VA said in a statement. “We are continuing to notify individuals whose letters have been returned as undeliverable, and working with homeless coordinators to reach veterans with no known home address.”

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