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1,800 Veterans Exposed to Hepatitis, HIV

1,800 Veterans Exposed to Hepatitis, HIV

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More than 1,800 veterans have received notices from the John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis, Mo. warning them of the possible exposure to HIV, hepatitis, and several other diseases through contaminated dental instruments, according to CBS News. The letters concern those who received dental work between February 2009 to March 2010.

While they are warned that the risk of infection is low, veterans will be offered free screenings for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.

CNN reports that the dental instruments were hand-washed before being put in a specialized cleaning machine. However, the instruments are not supposed to be prewashed.

Missouri congressman Russ Carnahan said the situation was "indefensible" and has called for a congressional investigation into the matter.

"This is absolutely unacceptable," Carnahan said in a statement Tuesday. "No veteran who has served and risked their life for this great nation should have to worry about their personal safety when receiving much needed healthcare services from a Veterans Administration hospital."

In his letter to Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki and President Barack Obama, in which he demands an investigation, Carnahan adds, "The men and women who have served this nation deserve the very best health care available -- anything less is intolerable."

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