MIAMI, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A U.S. Army veteran who turned up positive for HIV following a colonoscopy has filed a $20 million suit against the Veterans Administration.
Juan Rivera's suit is one of 45 filed against the Miami Veterans Administration so far and more are expected, The Miami Herald reported.
Rivera, 55, was initially told he was healthy. But a year after his colonoscopy he received a letter from the VA telling him equipment used in his procedure might have been contaminated.
He was asked to return for viral testing. He then came up HIV positive.
"He's shocked and mortified. He feels the government has given him a death sentence," said lawyer Ira Leesfield, who sued the VA on Rivera's behalf. "He has a wife and four children. He led a risk-free life, and he tested positive. There's only one possible source: the colonoscopy."
The VA has admitted that thousands of colonoscopies performed in Miami were conducted with equipment that might have been improperly cleaned.
The VA said 2,539 Miami veterans are "potentially at risk for infection" from their colonoscopies, but "there is currently no evidence to suggest these infections were acquired from the endoscopic equipment."
Rivera was among the 11,000 veterans who had the tests in Florida, Tennessee and Georgia from 2004 through 2009 with equipment the VA said might have been incorrectly cleaned.
Currently, five Miami-area veterans who had tests performed during the five-year period have tested positive for HIV. Eight others tested positive for hepatitis C and one tested positive for hepatitis B.
A 24-page report issued by a five-member VA Administrative Investigation Board found a variety of problems with the testing in Miami.