The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) faces an enquiry from a congressional panel for below-standard medical practices at several of its hospitals.

Thousands of former soldiers may have been put at risk of exposure to HIV and other infectious diseases, according to

VA officials have been forced to recommend blood tests for more than 10,000 former VA patients in Miami, Murfreesboro, Tennessee and Augusta for possible infections.

According to the VA, five veterans tested positive for HIV and 43 tested positive for hepatitis.

The hearing is scheduled for 16 June 2009 before the US House Committee on VA’s oversight and investigations subcommittee.

It will focus on investigating the apparent negligence as well as looking into the measures that have and will be taken to rectify them.

About 8,000 of the 10,483 potentially affected patients had been notified of the results of their blood tests.

VA staff have been given new guidelines on how to limit exposure.