- Richard Ma, general practitioner, The Village Practice, London, and Department of Health Services Research and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
The English Department of Health has consulted on its proposals to change the management of healthcare workers who are infected with HIV. It recommends relaxing the restriction on such workers performing “exposure prone procedures,” provided that they are taking combination antiretroviral therapy, they are regularly reviewed by HIV and occupational health doctors, and their plasma viral load is consistently suppressed to undetectable levels.
This recommendation follows the initial suggestion by the health departments’ expert advisory group on AIDS (EAGA) in 2007 that restrictions on dentists with HIV be reviewed. A working group that included EAGA, the Health Protection Agency’s advisory panel for healthcare workers infected with bloodborne viruses, and the health departments’ advisory group on hepatitis was established to review national guidance on the management of healthcare workers infected with HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C.
The UK has one of the strictest regulations governing HIV infected healthcare workers in the world; only Australia, Ireland, Italy, and Malta take a similar stance. The proposed change allows healthcare workers to perform all …