UK ban on HIV-positive doctors and dentists set to be overturned

On 24 November, The Independent Online reported that ministers are planning to launch a consultation later this year to examine whether it is justified to overturn the 20-year-old prohibition on doctors and dentists with HIV carrying out procedures that might potentially lead to blood contamination. It comes after a study of the evidence presented to the Chief Medical Officer concluded that the risk of transfer during any medical procedure was now negligible.

This is based the reduced infectivity associated with effective treatment together with high levels of infection control that are demanded of medical professionals that has resulted in much of Europe along with Australia and America having removed the restriction.

The article goes on to say that “sources in the medical profession say that even in Britain, where the ban is still in place, hospitals and dental surgeries have long operated a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy with regard to practitioners who have HIV.” They argue the policy is now clearly discriminatory as it can no longer be justified on public health groundsĀ – despite the emotive nature of HIV.

Apparently the decision to launch the review comes after the Department of Health’s Expert working group on AIDS and the UK Advisory Panel for Healthcare Workers Infected with Blood-borne Viruses both concluded that the risks could not justify the ban. They are believed to have told the Chief Medical Officer that the likelihood of any infection was as low as one case every 2,400 years.

Source: The Independent online. 24 November 2011.

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