Hepatitis B and admission to medical school

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7061.830 (Published 05 October 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:830
  1. R J C Gilson, Senior lecturer
  1. Department of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Division of Pathology and Infectious Diseases, University College London Medical School, London WC1E 6AU

    More flexibility should allow infectious applicants to follow non-invasive medical careers

    In 1994, Britain's Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals issued guidance to universities on medical and dental students' fitness to practise in relation to hepatitis B1; it was immediately controversial.2 3 The main arguments were whether being an infectious carrier of hepatitis B virus should preclude having a career in medicine, and whether the requirement to have been screened, immunised (if necessary), and shown to be immune before entry to medical or dental school was either necessary or practicable. The NHS Management Executive had earlier issued guidelines to health authorities and trusts that included reference to medical students,4 but the guidance to universities went further by saying that students infectious for hepatitis B should be excluded from the clinical course; for them there would be no option of a restricted choice of specialty in which their infection would not pose a hazard. Despite the opposition, the guidelines have not been relaxed, except that a revision issued in April 1995 made it clear that, provided the student had been given vaccine, as appropriate, it was not necessary to show that he or she was immune5; non-responders could be accepted on to medical or dental courses provided it was known that they were not …

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