Dentists’ Provident welcomes the news announced yesterday that HIV positive dentists will be able to practise again; and is developing a support programme for members affected.
Dentists’ Provident is currently supporting around half a dozen members who have contracted HIV and are therefore unable to practise dentistry.
A Dentists’ Provident member, who has been unable to practise for over a year, says “this is light at the end of the tunnel”. During this time he has been committed to making sure he doesn’t de-skill and kept up his postgraduate education. His Consultant described him as a healthcare worker who did not give up and found alternative work in the profession, keeping positive while waiting for any news.
Following independent scientific advice, the Department of Health has lifted the ban imposed in 1993 on healthcare workers with HIV being able to carry out certain dental and surgical procedures. This ban meant that dentists had to cease practising, so lost their careers.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies announced that the outdated rules designed to combat the threat of AIDS in the 1980s, when risks were less understood, have been modernised in line with the most recent science. The consultation and review of the policy concluded that the risk of transmission from healthcare workers during exposure-prone procedures was extremely low. In fact there haven’t been any cases in the UK of patients being infected with HIV by a dentist.
From next year healthcare workers with HIV will not be banned from practising, but must be on a register and monitored every three months by doctors, to ensure they are on the correct treatment and that their viral load is undetectable.
Bryan Gross, head of claims and underwriting at Dentists’ Provident stated “It is always a sad moment when a member calls to tell us that they can’t practise any longer due to contracting HIV, as it’s a huge blow to lose your career. These members have had to find alternative employment both inside and outside of the dental industry and we have supported them financially during this time. Over the next year we are committed to developing our support of these members; we will work with each individual to help them resume their chosen career.”