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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
CONNECTICUT: Mistake Prompts State to Test Dozens for HIV, Hepatitis

<p>Sabina Kuriakose</p>

August 23, 2013

NBC Connecticut (WVIT-HD) (08.23.2013)

Up to 74 diabetic inmates at the MacDougall-Walker State Prison in Connecticut may have been exposed to hepatitis C and other infectious diseases when a nurse put a contaminated needle into an insulin vial, according to court records. The nurse stuck an inmate with a needle but realized she hadn’t yet filled it with insulin. She then put the same needle into the vial before injecting insulin into the inmate, who also had hepatitis C; the vial was then used on dozens of other diabetic inmates, the documents detailed.

The inmates were first informed of the contamination in a letter dated May 28 that requested inmates to voluntarily be tested for three infections: hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV, but gave few other details. A local television station was asked by family members of one inmate to investigate further because their relative was “scared and he was upset and he was crying,” according to the inmate’s sister-in-law.

The medical error was detailed in court records because the Department of Corrections requested a judge to force the inmates to take a blood test for HIV. The inmate at the center of the scare has since tested negative for HIV and hepatitis B, which prompted the agency to send an additional letter dated June 20 that stated “the transmission of HIV or Hepatitis B is unlikely. There is still the concern for the transmission of Hepatitis C.”

The University of Connecticut (UConn) Health Center, which manages inmate health care for all Connecticut state prisons, said they are still investigating the incident and that the nurse in question had been put on administrative leave. A letter from UConn stated in part, “all appropriate notifications have been made and protocols followed. This includes a pending…joint investigation, which limits disclosure of additional details. The risk of an infectious disease contracted as a result of this is considered extremely low, and all tests so far have been negative.” The state is continuing to test the inmates.