Department of Health

Statement regarding precautionary ‘lookback’

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health is contacting 399 patients in eastern Victoria following the diagnosis of HIV in a health care worker, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Rosemary Lester said today.

The Department has completed a thorough investigation and is following-up with selected patients of the health care worker.

This is entirely precautionary as there are no reports of any patient contracting HIV from the health care worker.

But we are erring on the side of caution and recommending a blood test to rule out the presence of HIV.

The health care worker, who ceased undertaking procedures on being diagnosed, has cooperated fully with the Department.

Dr Lester said the chances of infection passing from the health care worker to a patient were very low.

While the news may be a surprise to the patients we have contacted, I would like to reassure them there is no need for undue concern, Dr Lester said.

The welfare of the patients of this health care worker is our primary concern. We believe it necessary to have offered advice and testing to this cohort of patients through our confidential investigation.

Only patients who have been contacted directly by the Department need to take any action. A team of specialist public health staff is on hand to provide advice to each of the patients.

Arrangements have been in place for blood samples to be taken, analysed and the results made available to each person as soon as possible.

We are doing everything we can to protect the privacy and confidentiality of these patients.

The Department cannot legally disclose the identity of the health care worker involved or any details around which procedure led to any potential exposure.

HIV is a blood-borne virus spread through unsafe sex with an infected person, and less frequently through blood-to-blood incidents such as needle stick injuries. By law, all HIV cases must be reported to the Department of Health.

Reviewed 15 July 2014


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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