We know that the chances of contracting HIV-infection in a dental setup is very slim. However, as health care workers, dental students and dentists, we must be knowledgeable of the disease process, its oral manifestations and their management, modes of transmission, preventive strategies, and most importantly the instructions to the team and education to the public.
There are many major authorities dealing with the ethical and legal issues related to HIV and AIDS. They are the American Dental Association (ADA) and the centers of disease control (CDC) in USA and similarly General Dental Council (GDC) and the British Dental Association (BDA) in UK.
In UK, there are two guidelines to be followed in HIV discrimination, the GDC & the BDA. The GDC guidelines states that “It would be unethical for a dentist to refuse to treat a patient solely on the grounds that the person was HIV Positive”.
Regarding the patient confidentiality, according to BDA, “Any information obtained in the course of consultation and treatment is confidential, including personal health information. Practitioners should ensure that their staff are aware of the absolute duty of confidentiality and behave accordingly”.
It is also advisable to seek the permission from the HIV infected patient for each release of their HIV related information. There are three possible transmission routes for HIV in a dental practice.
(1) From a Dentist deliberately to a patient,
(2) From the Dentist to patient by accident, and
(3) From an infected patient to another patient.
As we all know, protection from any disease is mainly through immunization, but unfortunately an AIDS vaccine is still at large. Preventive Strategies in a Clinic should be carried out by means of universal precautions, through cleaning and disposal of blood, saliva or tissues from all patients. Accidental needle stick injuries are relatively common in practice. So all the members of Dental team should be trained to avoid such injuries, though the chances of contracting HIV from a needle stick is very slim (less than 1%).