New HIV Guidelines for Dentists in Dorset

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Dentists and dental staff in Dorset will be given new guidelines for caring for patients with HIV, it has been announced.

The announcement comes as figures show that a large proportion of patients with HIV do not tell their dentist about their condition, because they are worried that it will change the way they are treated. Figures from a survey carried out by Bournemouth LINk confirmed that 46 percent of HIV positive patients did not declare their HIV status.

Patients said that they were worried that they would not be taken on by dentists if they declared that they were HIV positive and some said that they would only be entitled to take the last appointments of the day. Other concerns included the attitude of dental staff and feeling uncomfortable about the extra precautions taken by dentists.

The findings of the survey have prompted NHS Bournemouth and Poole to devise new guidelines. The organisation will work alongside Wessex Dental Postgraduate Deanery and the Dorset Local Dental Committee to draft the new guidelines. The new measures will be sent to all NHS and private dental practices in the county and are expected to reinforce cross-infection controls, which are designed to assume that any patient could have a blood-borne virus.

Chris Wakefield, development officer at Bournemouth LINk, said that the research showed a clear need for dentists and dental staff to have greater awareness of how they treat patients with HIV. He added that the organisation was delighted that NHS Bournemouth and Poole was taking action to improve the relationship between patients and dental staff.


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