Dear Sir: We believe we can cure your diabetes. However, we may also have given you HIV…

A mixed-bag kind of a day for the US health care system.

US scientists have managed to rid diabetic mice of the effects of the disease using a cocktail of drugs.

The mice, who had type 1 diabetes, started producing their own insulin after taking a mixture of four drugs.

Previously the same team at Harvard University had only been able to stop the destruction of the cells which make insulin, not regenerate them.

This is good – this is flippin’ fantastic. The ability to make broken bodies regulate their own insulin? It’s an incredible discovery (and will hopefully continue to be successful through human trials).

This, however, was not-so-good:

US officials Thursday said 40,000 people may have been infected with HIV and hepatitis in a major health scare after a Las Vegas clinic was found to have re-used syringes and medicine vials.

Authorities in southern Nevada said they were notifying some 40,000 patients who received anesthesia injections at the clinic’s endoscopy center between March 2004 and January 11, 2008 about potential exposure to hepatitis and HIV.

No cases of HIV or hepatitis B infections related to the clinic’s practices have been detected yet, authorities said.

After an investigation, “the health district determined that unsafe injection practices related to the administration of anesthesia medication might have exposed patients to the blood of other patients,” it said.

“The joint investigation identified the re-use of syringes (not needles) and the use of single dose vials of anesthesia medication on multiple patients as the potential sources of contamination.”

Action has since been taken by the clinic to end such practices.

“It appears the injection practices that can lead to the transmission of hepatitis C and other bloodborne infections have been occurring at this clinic for several years,” said chief health officer Lawrence Sands.

As near as I can determine the practice hasn’t been found to be unsafe – it was always unsafe, and should not have been occurring at this or any other clinic.

The consequences certainly ought to be interesting – class-action-wise-speaking, etc.


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