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Time to end the ban on HIV-positive proceduralists and dentists

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To the Editor: This year, the ban on HIV-positive surgeons and dentists practising in the United Kingdom was removed on the provision that they are clinically well, are being treated, and have an undetectable viral load.1 This development aligns the UK with over 20 other countries. Australia is lagging behind other more progressive countries on this issue.2

During the height of the HIV epidemic in the early 1990s, there were no HIV transmissions among 22 171 patients exposed to pre-antiretroviral (ART)-era HIV-positive doctors and dentists during invasive operations.3

There have been only 10 published case reports indicating probable transmission from a proceduralist to patients since HIV was first reported.4 The current risk estimate is 1 in 1 672 000.2 No cases of inadvertent transmission have been reported in the literature from countries that allow HIV-positive proceduralists.2

ART is vital for reducing the risk of transmission. Extrapolating from the ongoing PARTNER study, there have been no transmissions between serodiscordant couples who have regular, unprotected, high-risk sex if the positive partner is receiving ART and virally suppressed 2 years into the study.