- NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Despite recommendations to the contrary, about
1 in 6 dentists in Canada still refuse to treat HIV-positive patients,
according to a survey published in the American Journal of Public Health.
- Sixteen percent of the over 4,000 dentists
surveyed by Dr. Gillian McCarthy of the University of Western Ontario,
in London, Ontario, Canada and colleagues said they would refuse to treat
a patient with HIV.
- Many of the unwilling dentists said they
did not feel they had an ethical responsibility to treat HIV patients.
Some said that they refused because they were unable to deal with staff
fears, and others said that their office was not equipped to treat AIDS
- And some of the dentists surveyed said
that they were unwilling to visit a dentist who treated HIV patients themselves
due to fears of cross-infection.
- The American Dental Association maintains
that it is unethical to refuse to provide care to an individual solely
because he or she has HIV or AIDS.
- "Dentists may exercise reasonable
discretion in selecting patients for their practices, but to deny treatment
solely on the basis of a patient's HIV status is unreasonable,'' according
to an Association statement.
- Educating dentists may be the best way
to overcome their reluctance to treat HIV patients, according to the authors.
"In addition to increased emphasis on infection control and knowledge
of infectivity of blood-borne pathogens, teaching of biomedical ethics
at the undergraduate and postgraduate level and in continuing education
may reduce dentists' refusal to treat HIV-infected patients,'' they conclude.
- SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health