Doctor says HIV infections will never be traced to VA exams

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A top doctor at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says former patients who tested positive for HIV or hepatitis will not be able to show they were infected by tainted equipment at VA medical centers.

Five patients have tested positive for HIV and 33 have tested positive for hepatitis since the VA started notifying more than 11,000 people treated at three VA medical centers in Miami, Augusta, Ga., and Tennessee that they may have been exposed to infectious body fluids after using endoscopic equipment that wasn't properly sterilized.

The blood tests are continuing. The agency has stressed that the positive results for the diseases may not have come from hospital mistakes.

The VA's chief patient safety officer, Dr. Jim Bagian, said he doesn't think anyone will ever know.

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