updated 7:57 p.m. ET, Fri., April 24, 2009
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Thousands of veterans were at first shocked to learn they should get blood tests for HIV and hepatitis because three hospitals might have treated them with unsterile equipment. Now, just a couple of months after the Department of Veterans Affairs issued the dire warnings, veterans are growing frustrated by the lack of information from the tightlipped federal agency.
Nearly 11,000 former sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines could have been exposed to infectious diseases because three VA hospitals in the Southeast did not properly clean endoscopic equipment between patients. On Friday, the VA revealed that another patient had tested positive for HIV, bringing the total to four such cases among patients who got endoscope procedures at hospitals in Miami, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga.
The agency also said a new hepatitis case had been discovered, increasing the number of positive tests to 26. More than 4,270 veterans still have yet to get test results.