The ethical dilemma of infectious disease disclosure for dentists – New Dentist Blog


In July 1990, the Florida Division of Well being reported a doable transmission of HIV from a dentist to 5 of his sufferers.1 Although it was unclear if precise transmission of the virus really occurred, this incidence precipitated a lot controversy and fear inside dental group.2,3

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Dr. Barrera

On the time, well being care suppliers had been to observe the CDC’s “Suggestions for Stopping Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis B Virus to Sufferers,” which advisable that suppliers with HIV or Hepatitis B should disclose their standing to an knowledgeable evaluation panel for consideration earlier than the supplier might proceed to observe.4These tips have since been retired by the CDC resulting from the truth that the danger of transmission of HIV or HBV from supplier to affected person is minimal throughout exposure-prone procedures and inconsequential with noninvasive procedures.5,6

The present CDC steerage makes no point out of affected person publicity from dental well being care suppliers as a result of it’s a nonissue.6 Nevertheless, a number of states have created their very own requirements and tips on the right way to cope with this case.

Texas Administrative Code Rule §108.25

A number of states, together with Texas, require HIV/HBV-positive suppliers to reveal their standing to an knowledgeable panel earlier than treating sufferers. However Texas is the one state that requires these suppliers to take further measures which embrace notifying sufferers individually.

The Texas Administrative Code Rule §108.25 states, “A dental well being care employee who’s contaminated with HIV or HBV and is HbeAg constructive shall notify a potential affected person of the dental well being care employee’s standing and acquire the affected person’s consent earlier than the affected person undergoes an exposure-prone process carried out by the notifying dental well being care employee.”7

Determine 1. State guidelines and laws relating to infectious illness disclosure. Supply: The Middle for HIV Legislation and Coverage. Tips for HIV-Optimistic Well being Care Employees, The Middle for HIV Legislation and Coverage. Revealed March 2008. Up to date June 2017. Courtesy of Melanie E. Patterson, RDH, BSDH, and Kimberlynn N. Patzold, RDH, BSDH.

The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) states that disciplinary actions for noncompliance of infectious illness disclosure to sufferers might vary from a verbal reprimand to license suspension.

It’s protected to say that this rule is outdated and discriminatory because it carries the opportunity of critical penalties to suppliers. Necessary disclosure to sufferers may have main repercussions for the dentist, similar to lack of observe, prejudice towards the supplier, and fewer profession and academic alternatives.

The impression of advances in anti-viral medication on administration of the contaminated well being care employee


Growth of one of many newer courses of antiretroviral medication (integrase strand switch inhibitor brokers) has been a significant step ahead in administration of the illness. These medication are at the moment seen as optimum for preliminary remedy as they’re extremely efficient at virological suppression and are extraordinarily effectively tolerated. Viral suppression could make the HIV viral load so low that it turns into undetectable within the bloodstream, and due to this fact untransmutable to a different particular person.8

In 2012, the FDA permitted the usage of the medicine Truvada as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV-negative people who’re at excessive threat of buying HIV. Immediately, there are two permitted oral medicines and 1 injectable therapy to be used as PrEP.8

With the progress that has been made in the direction of HIV therapy & prevention, it’s protected to say that the Texas Administrative Code Rule §108.25 is antiquated and does nothing to additional affected person security or public well being.

Hepatitis B

The excellent safety supplied by the Hepatitis B vaccine has proven to have safety lasting for as much as 30 years. This was the primary necessary step in decreasing the variety of well being care employees contaminated with HBV and due to this fact decreasing threat of onward transmission to sufferers.9 This provides to the case that the Texas Rule is outdated and pointless as the danger of Hepatitis B transmission is low.

Trying Forward

After we take an total have a look at the scenario, one may argue that adherence to common precautions alone renders the Texas rule out of date and discriminatory. Moreover, it’s inconsistent that dentists should disclose private well being info simply because it’s HIV or HBV in comparison with different infectious illnesses. The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners didn’t take the identical place when the virus in query was SARS-CoV-2.

In line with the Texas Dental Affiliation, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners requires dentists and staff members testing constructive for COVID-19 and having identified shut contact with sufferers whereas constructive, to inform these sufferers. Nevertheless, the dental staff may be required to guard the staff member’s confidentiality underneath relevant privateness legal guidelines.10 Why would these similar legal guidelines not be relevant if the dentist was as a substitute constructive for HIV or HBV? Particularly when HIV and HBV transmission is way much less prone to happen in a dental setting. That is proof that the Texas Administrative Code Rule §108.25 is discriminatory and must be abolished.

My hope is that we use the up to date analysis to abolish guidelines just like the outdated Texas Administrative Code Rule §108.25 so that each one well being care suppliers and college students have an equal alternative to deal with sufferers with out worry of prejudice or discrimination.

Dr. Alex Barrera is a basic dentist at Legacy Group Well being in Houston, Texas. He graduated in 2017 from the College of Texas Faculty of Dentistry at Houston and is a member of varied organizations together with the American Dental Affiliation, Hispanic Dental Affiliation, Larger Houston Dental Affiliation, and the Houston Equality Dental Community. He at the moment serves because the chair of the New Dentist Committee for the Hispanic Dental Affiliation and is on the ADA Council on Advocacy for Entry and Prevention. Dr. Barrera is the present president of the Houston Equality Dental Community which permits him to be an advocate for LGBTQ+ care in dentistry. Dr. Barrera is an authorized yoga trainer and makes use of mindfulness and meditation to assist higher deal with sufferers with dental phobias. In his spare time, he enjoys studying, cooking and touring.



  1. “Tips for HIV-Optimistic Well being Care Employees, the Middle for HIV Legislation & Coverage (2008).” Tips for HIV-Optimistic Well being Care Employees, The Middle for HIV Legislation & Coverage (2008) | The Middle for HIV Legislation and Coverage, 1 Mar. 1970,
  2. Brown, David. “The 1990 Florida Dental Investigation: Concept and Truth.” Annals of Inside Medication, vol. 124, no. 2, 1996, p. 255., Accessed 16 Apr. 2022.
  3. Jaffe, Harold. “Lack of HIV Transmission within the Apply of a Dentist with AIDS.” Annals of Inside Medication, vol. 121, no. 11, 1994, p. 855., Accessed 18 Apr. 2022.
  4. “Suggestions for Stopping Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis B Virus to Sufferers throughout Publicity-Susceptible Invasive Procedures.” MMWR. Suggestions and Experiences : Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Suggestions and Experiences, U.S. Nationwide Library of Medication,
  5. United States Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Suggestions for stopping transmission of human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis B virus to sufferers throughout exposure-prone invasive procedures. MMWR Recomm Rep. 1991;40(RR08):1–9.
  6. “Abstract of An infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings: Fundamental Expectations for Protected Care.” Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, 10 Sept. 2021,
  7. Texas Administrative Code, 22 Tex. Admin. Code § 110.11, 2010,$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=22&pt=5&ch=108&rl=25. Accessed 18 April. 2022.
  8. “About PrEp.” Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, 20 Apr. 2022,
  9. Barrigar, Diana L, et al. “Hepatitis B Virus Contaminated Physicians and Disclosure of Transmission Dangers to Sufferers: A Essential Evaluation.” BMC Medical Ethics, vol. 2, no. 1, 2001,
  10. Tsbde Covid-19 Emergency Rule,



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