- NEW YORK
- Eleven national organizations are challenging the
firing of a dental
hygienist on the basis of his HIV status. The
organizations include the
American Public Health Association, the
American Dental Association, and
the Infectious Diseases Society of
- In 1997, dental hygienist Spencer Waddell's physician
his employer of his HIV status. The employer, Dr. Eugene Witkin
Valley Forge Dental Associates in Atlanta, Georgia, fired Waddell, and
the former employee filed suit.
- ``The fact that very reputable professional
are concerned about science and the integrity of their
away the notion that this is just a self-interested
party arguing his case,''
attorney Stephen R. Scarborough, of the
Lambda Legal Defense Fund's Atlanta
office, told Reuters
- According to the briefing filed by Scarborough, ``Dr.
admitted that he has no training concerning HIV transmission. He
never attended any seminars devoted to discussion of HIV and its impact
on dentistry.... He even confessed to uncertainty as to whether HIV is
transmitted through sweat.''
- A lower court dismissed Waddell's lawsuit, concluding
that he posed a significant risk of HIV transmission to patients.
- Scarborough said that
this case is the first to follow
the 1998 US Supreme Court decision in
Bragdon v. Abbott, which requires
that decisions about whether
healthcare professionals pose a significant
risk of transmitting HIV to
patients be scientifically based.
- ``It's particularly important
to Waddell that he be evaluated
based on his ability to practice well
and safely rather than based on stereotypes
or inflated concerns or
irrational fears,'' Scarborough said.
- Among those supporting Waddell
is Dr. Donald Marianos
of Northern Arizona University, a participant in
the development of the
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1991 protocol concerning
the management of HIV-positive healthcare
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