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News HIV scandal sinks Chilean health minister C hilean authorities are overhaul- ing the country’s HIV/AIDS programs after more than 500 patients who tested positive for the virus were not informed of the results. The controversy has also resulted in the resignation of the country’s health minister, Maria Soledad Barria, as well as legal proceedings against 20 health care staff in northern Chile. The scandal began last July follow- ing the death of Dearnny Aguilar, a young mother who had tested positive for HIV in 2004, but was never notified. Her death prompted Iquique Re- gional Hospital, in Iquique, Chile, to conduct an investigation into HIV test records, which showed that approxi- mately 2 dozen other HIV-positive pa- tients had not received their test results. Hospital officials reported that 3 of those patients had died, 8 others were receiving treatment, 2 had left the country, 2 had been retested and found to be HIV-negative, while 9 could not be located. A subsequent countrywide investigation revealed that at least 512 people had not been informed that they were carrying the virus, including sev- Reuters/Eliseo Fernandez eral blood bank donors in Santiago. The case has embarrassed the gov- ernment of President Michelle Bachelet, a former pediatrician and epidemiolo- gist. Following Aguilar’s death, Barria held a press conference to announce a A man dressed in a condom costume hands out contraceptive sheaths at Vina del Mar, series of corrective measures, including Chile, as part of a campaign by the Chilean Corporation for the Prevention of AIDS. the resignation of Iquique’s health serv- ices director and improvements in hos- pital HIV/AIDS procedures. Chile’s new health minister, Alvaro ing private health care facilities between As the number of cases of patients Erazo, announced a unified HIV/AIDS 2004 and 2008 who had tested positive left in the dark about their HIV-positive registry system for the public and pri- for HIV without being informed. status rose, some members of Chile’s
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