Dentists reminded to sterilise all equipment against HIV

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

ALL DENTISTS are to be reminded by the Department of Health that they must sterilise equipment thoroughly between patients to prevent the spread of HIV or other infections, writes Judy Jones.

The move comes in the wake of evidence that most fail to sterilise adequately. A survey of 69 dentists, details of which were broadcast by the BBC's Panorama this month, found only 17 per cent sterilised equipment to standards recommended by the British Dental Association.

The programme highlighted the case of the Florida dentist who is said to have infected six of his patients with HIV the only known case anywhere in the world of a health care worker pasing on the Aids virus to a patient.

In a letter released yesterday, Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, said officials were writing to all 18,000 dentists underlining the importance of existing guidance that they should steam-sterilise all dental hand-pieces between each patient.