HIV scare at Winnipeg’s Southeast Collegiate

Parents, students, and staff at Southeast Collegiate have been outraged over a potential outbreak of HIV and hepatitis infection caused by a botched diabetes test administered by a University of Manitoba professor, reported by The Winnipeg Free Press.

Students, and some staff, at Southeast Collegiate, a high school for Aboriginal students located in Winnipeg, were given a diabetes test by a University of Manitoba professor who improperly administered the test. The improper use of the testing materials may have potentially exposed students and staff, who were given the test, to HIV and hepatitis.

Although the university professor is not a licensed physician and had not been authorized by the university to administer a diabetes test, or any thing of the nature, the test was given as a demonstration as part of a lecture the professor was giving at the school. The professor visited the school in order to give a lecture informing the students about diabetes as a part of the school’s Health and Wellness Day.

While administering the test the needles were discarded, however, the glucometer pen, which is the device the needle is secured in, was used multiple times on different students and staff. The professor was allegedly not aware that the pen had to be discarded after each use as well as the needle, according to the professor who administered the blood tests, and the botched blood test was a mistake made of misinformation of instructions on how to conduct multiple blood tests.

Although there is a low risk of infection occurring, the students and staff who had been affected by these events will be given further tests to determine if they have contracted an infection. Some of the students’ parents have been contacted and informed of these events, while other parents have not been notified as communication has been difficult due to the remote areas some of the parents reside in. As well, an investigation will commence in order to review the events that took place.

Many of the students, and parents of the students, are both outraged that such a thing could happen. Some parents even fear that this incident will affect their child’s concentration at school, and with final examinations coming up soon, a loss of concentration could be very detrimental to the students’ prospects of graduation.

The impact on the students’ physical health in the event that an infection has occurred could be tremendous. In the very unlikely event that an infection outbreak occurs the impact of the event for both the students involved, and the University of Manitoba as the party who is held most accountable, could have resounding effects.

The university has issued an apology and has stated that the professor who administered the tests has been reprimanded, although the university representative did not state specifically the punishment the individual received. The apology was issued by Rockman-Greenberg, a University of Manitoba representative, who said, “This individual is a member of our department and disciplinary action has been taken…We’re very, very sorry about the stress that it has caused the students, the parents, the community.” The university has requested a full review of the incident.