The Miami Herald, February 28, 2011
When U.S. Army veteran Juan Rivera turned 55 and decided it was time for a colonoscopy, he turned to the Veterans Administration hospital in Miami. He had the test, got a clean bill of health and didn't give it another thought. A year later, he received a chilling letter from the VA. It said the equipment used in the procedure might have been contaminated. And it asked him to come in for viral testing. He came up HIV positive. "He's shocked and mortified. He feels the government has given him a death sentence," said lawyer Ira Leesfield, who has filed suit against the VA for $20 million 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." Rivera's suit is one of 45 filed against the VA so far in Miami, with 113 more in line to sue after filing the notice required when a government agency is involved.