Britain lifts ban on health workers with HIV

The British government said Thursday it would lift a ban on staff with HIV working in the state-run National Health Service from carrying out certain procedures on patients.

Staff who are undergoing treatment for HIV will be able to carry out all procedures from which they are currently banned, including surgery and , provided they are having effective anti-retroviral drug therapy.

England's chief medical officer, Professor Sally Davies, said there was no proof that anyone had contracted HIV from a and it was time to scrap "outdated rules".

She said improved treatment meant HIV, the that can lead to AIDS, could often be managed and carriers could lead long and normal lives.

Self-testing kits for HIV will also be legalised in Britain from April 2014, to improve early detection of the disease.

"We've got outdated rules," said Davies.

"At the moment we bar totally safe who are on treatment with HIV from performing many surgical treatments, and that includes dentists."

She said: "What we want to do—and want to get over—is how society needs to move from thinking about HIV as positive or negative and thinking about HIV as a , to thinking about whether they're infectious or not infectious."

Davies said huge improvements in the treatment of HIV meant that today, carriers can lead "lives that are normal in quality and length".

"With effective treatment, they are not infectious," she added.

There are about 100,000 people with HIV in Britain although experts say a quarter of those who are infected do not know they have it.

In 2011, there were around 6,000 new diagnoses of HIV.

Apart from being on retroviral drugs, healthcare workers must also have an undetectable viral load of HIV, meaning the level of the virus in their blood is so low that the likelihood of transmitting it to another person is greatly reduced.

They will also have to be monitored every three months and sign a confidential register of infected staff.

There have been just four cases in Western countries of health workers infecting patients, with no cases ever recorded in Britain.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust (NAT), welcomed the new policy, which she said was "based on up-to-date scientific evidence and not on fear, stigma or outdated information".

Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific advisor to the British Dental Association, said the change brought Britain in line with many other countries.

"Dentists in the UK comply with rigorous infection control procedures to protect both patients and the dental team against the risk of transmission of blood-borne infections," he added.

Related Stories

Malawi gets 1,000 new HIV infections a week

date Feb 23, 2013

AIDS-ravaged Malawi, where over a tenth of the population is HIV positive, records on average 1,000 new cases weekly, a top government official said Saturday.

Recommended for you

Indiana HIV outbreak, hepatitis C epidemic sparks US alert

date Apr 24, 2015

Federal health officials helping to contain an HIV outbreak in Indiana state issued an alert to health departments across the U.S. on Friday, urging them to take steps to identify and track HIV and hepatitis C cases in an ...

Why are HIV survival rates lower in the Deep South than the rest of the US?

date Apr 22, 2015

The Deep South region has become the epicenter of the US HIV epidemic. Despite having only 28% of the total US population, nine states in the Deep South account for nearly 40% of national HIV diagnoses. This region has the highest HIV diagnosis rates and the highest number of people living with HIV of any ...

A bad buzz: Men with HIV need fewer drinks to feel effects

date Apr 20, 2015

Researchers at Yale and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System compared the number of drinks that men with HIV infection, versus those without it, needed to get a buzz. They found that HIV-infected men were more sensitive to ...

Research informs HIV treatment policy for inmates

date Apr 16, 2015

A national, five-year study of care for inmates with HIV brought strangers together, produced policy change in the Delaware Department of Corrections and documented the importance of good communication and ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.