The government has announced that it is to lift a ban on healthcare workers with HIV carrying out certain procedures on patients. Medical staff throughout the UK who are undergoing treatment for HIV will now be permitted to be involved in all procedures from which they are currently banned. This will include surgery and dentistry.

Announcing the changes, Professor Dame Sally Davies said the current rules banning doctors, nurses and dentists who have been diagnosed with HIV from performing procedures with high risk of exposure – were “outdated” and that the chance of being infected with the virus by a healthcare worker was “more remote than being struck by lightning”.

Under these proposals – which will come into effect next April – the UK will be brought into line with other developed countries – including Sweden, France and New Zealand

Dame Sally stated:

“Many of the UK’s HIV policies were designed to combat the perceived threat at the height of the HIV concerns in the 1980s and have now been left behind by scientific advances and effective treatments.


“It is time we changed these outdated rules which are sometimes counter-productive and limit people’s choices on how to get tested or treated early.


“At the moment, we bar totally safe healthcare workers who are on treatment with HIV from performing many surgical treatments, and that includes dentists.


“What we want to do, and want to get over, is how society needs to move from thinking about HIV as positive or negative and thinking about HIV as a death sentence, to thinking about whether they’re infectious or not infectious.”

About 100,000 people in the UK are living with HIV, although experts say a quarter of those who are infected do not know they have it. In 2011, there were 6,000 new diagnoses of HIV in the UK.