Surgery tech who may have exposed patients in 4 states has tested positive for HIV

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DENVER (AP) — Federal prosecutors in Colorado say a hospital surgery technician accused of stealing painkiller syringes is a carrier of HIV.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver released the information Wednesday about Rocky Allen as part of a plea for patients who may have been infected by him to be tested.

Authorities haven’t previously described Allen’s health status. Court officials only referred to a “blood-borne pathogen” during a hearing in February when he pleaded not guilty to stealing medicine at Swedish Medical Center in suburban Denver. There have been no reported cases of HIV among the approximately 2,500 people tested there.

Authorities in Colorado say the fear is that he may have replaced the needles intended for patients with syringes he previously used, making it possible for patients to be infected.

The case has also led to warnings to patients at other hospitals where he worked in Arizona, California and Washington to be tested.

More patients in Washington have come forward, after learning they might have been exposed to hepatitis or HIV. They’re planning to file a lawsuit, saying Northwest Hospital in Seattle should have protected them.

Northwest Hospital notified 1,300 patients earlier this year about the possible exposure.