National Security

VA warns unclean Miami colonoscopies may spread HIV

Veterans who got colonoscopies through the Miami VA medical system are at risk of being infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV through the procedure, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek's office.

The VA on Monday afternoon contacted Meek to inform him that the medical equipment used for the procedures were not cleaned per the manufacturer's recommendations. As many as 3,260 veterans underwent the procedure between May 2004 and this month.

The VA sent letters to some 2,500 South Florida veterans encouraging them to come in for blood tests. They are also scrambling to inform the other 700 patients who are no longer known to be in the area.

So far, there are no known cases of infection, said Meek's spokesman, Adam Sharon.

''As a result of a manufacturer's alert and our review of endoscopy procedures, we have become aware of a potential health risk,'' Miami VA Director Mary D. Berrocal wrote in a letter to veterans. ``Although we believe that this risk is minimal, we would like to provide you with additional information and follow-up care.''

Veterans who might have been infected can call 305-575-7256 or toll free at 1-877- 575-7256 for more information.