Ban lifted against GPs and practice staff with HIV treating patients

GPs and practice staff with HIV will no longer be banned from treating patients using procedures that were thought to risk infecting the patient from their doctor's blood.

Prof Davies: Patients had more chance of being struck by lightning than being infected with HIV by a doctor or other healthcare worker
Prof Davies: Patients had more chance of being struck by lightning than being infected with HIV by a doctor or other healthcare worker

England’s CMO Professor Dame Sally Davies has announced that GPs, and other healthcare workers, with HIV will be able to carry out any procedures if they are on combination anti-retroviral drug therapy.

They must also have an undetectable level of HIV, be regularly monitored, and Public Health England will keep a confidential register of healthcare workers with HIV.

Current guidelines prevent clinicians from carrying out ‘exposure prone procedures’ where an injury to the doctor, or other clinician, could lead to ‘bleed-back’ where the patient’s open tissue could be exposed to the GP’s blood.  

These include procedures where a GP’s gloved hand could be cut by a sharp instrument, needle tip, or sharp patient tissue such as bone or teeth.

But Professor Davies said patients had more chance of being struck by lightning than being infected with HIV by a doctor or other healthcare worker.

‘Many of the UK’s HIV policies were designed to combat the perceived threat at the height of HIV concerns in the 1980s and have now been left behind by scientific advances and effective treatments,’ she said.

There have been only four cases recorded worldwide of a patient being infected by HIV from a healthcare worker, with the most recent being more than 10 years ago. Two cases involved doctors: one was an orthopaedic surgeon performing a hip hemiarthroplasty, and the other was an obstetrician carrying out a Caesarean section.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus