At least one patient who may have undergone a colon cancer screen with contaminated equipment at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility has tested positive for HIV.
The patient, whom the VA hasn’t identified, is among the more than 10,000 vets who are being urged to get tested for the AIDS-causing virus as well as for hepatitis B and C, after the VA determined they may have been among those who received colonoscopies with improperly cleaned endoscopes. Eleven others have tested positive for hep C, and five more for hep B, the VA said in a press release.
Eleven of the infections turned up at the VA's facility in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and six at its hospital in Augusta, Ga. The VA doesn’t specify where the HIV-positive patient or the others were treated. "These results do not indicate that there is any relationship between these patients’ conditions and the endoscopy procedures they underwent," the VA said. "However, VA is conducting an epidemiologic investigation to look into the possibility of such a relationship."
VA spokesperson Katie Roberts said the VA had no other information about the test results.
Some 3,174 vets have been notified of their results, according to the VA. Technicians at the Murfreesboro, Augusta and Miami VA hospitals performed colonoscopies as far back as 2003 without cleaning between each screen the tubes used to view the colon, according to the Miami Herald. Instead, they sterilized them once a day. The VA is investigating why health care workers didn't follow the manufacturers' instructions.
Seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs/U.S. government via Wikimedia Commons