Sydney hair replacement clinic in HIV warning

Hundreds of people may have been exposed to HIV and other infectious diseases after they received treatment at a Macquarie Street hair replacement clinic.

An investigation by public health authorities has found evidence of poor infection control practices, including problems with the cleaning and sterilisation of surgical instruments and equipment at the clinic run by Angela Katarina Campbell in Suit 23 at 193 Macquarie Street.

The South Eastern Sydney Local Health District revealed on Wednesday afternoon that Dr Campbell's medical registration was cancelled in late February after an investigation by the Medical Council of NSW.

But the district only became aware of the potential public health threat posed by the clinic months later, when neighbours in her building reported concerns about how medical waste was being stored.

Mark Ferson, the director of the public health unit at the district, said it was still unclear how many patients had potentially been exposed to the risk of disease.

“We don't know the numbers of patients [who went through the clinic], but it's possibly in the low hundreds,” he said.

The hair procedures undertaken in the clinic took many hours, and records from the clinic were no longer available.

“Part of the … delay has been trying to look for an avenue to develop a list of patients,” Professor Ferson said.

He said the overall risk to individual patients seen in the clinic was very low.

“As a precaution, we are recommending that former patients attend their local general practitioner for screening for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV infection," he said. “NSW Health has notified other states and territories, as we believe some patients may have come from interstate and overseas.”

Anyone who was treated at the clinic between December 2010 and February 2013 was advised to consult their GP.

Patients could also contact the public health unit to discuss the recommendations, he said.

A spokesman for the Medical Council said he could give no information on the nature of Dr Campbell's suspension because of privacy laws.

However, the Medical Council had only become aware of the potential public health issues in late April after being contacted by the building manager where the clinic was located. It advised the building manager to contact public health authorities.

Fairfax Media does not suggest any other Macquarie Street hair clinics have placed their patients at risk.

South Eastern Sydney Local Health District Public Health Unit: 02 9382 8333

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