The ability of oral healthcare professionals to continue practising in the event that they are diagnosed as HIV positive was the subject of research conducted by Dental Protection in conjunction with the Council of European Dentists in 2008. Click here to view data
The research indicated that the countries of Europe are split between those where the dentist is able to work, and the situation that previously existed in the UK where the dentist must immediately stop working. The evidence base was reviewed in April 2009 at the 6th World Workshop on Oral Health and Disease in AIDS which produced a consensus statement known as the Beijing Declaration. The proceedings of the Workshop and the references was published in 2011 in Advances in Dental Research .
Active lobbying for a review of the UK regulations has been supported by Dental Protection since 2005. In the intervening years, the three committees advising the Department of Health in the UK have discussed the situation affecting UK healthcare workers with blood-borne disease and a further review has now been completed. In November 2011 the Department of Health announced that it was undertaking a public consultation for a change in the regulations affecting HIV positive doctors and dentists. The consultation closed 9 March 2012 and the Department of Health reponded with an announcement 15 August 2013.
Following independent scientific advice, the Department of Health will lift the ban on healthcare workers with HIV being able to carry out certain dental and surgical procedures. Strict rules on treatment, monitoring and testing will be in place to safeguard patients.
Decided on a case-by-case basis, HIV-infected healthcare workers may be allowed to undertake certain procedures, if they are:
- on effective combination antiretroviral drug therapy;
- have an undetectable viral load; and
- are regularly monitored by their treating and occupational health physicians.
Public Health England will now put in place a programme to register and monitor healthcare workers who have HIV and ensure they are able to perform certain procedures when appropriate. The new policy will be in place from April 2014.
Read DPL's response to the consultation (January 2012)
Read DPL's press release (15 August 2013)
Page last updated 15 August 2013