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HIV+ Reported to Dentist by Medical HMO

Nov 20, 2000

I wasn't sure where to put this question. If one is employed by a major corp which provides health and dental insurance under the same plan(monthly deduction), what is the likelihood that once the HIV+ status of the employee is known by the medical department(HMO) of the insurance company, the employee's dentist of record(selected privately by the employee(non HM0) would also be notified of the HIV+ status of the employee. Please answer ASAP. I called for a dentist appt. I was given an appt. but got a call back with a question regarding the tooth problem I am having and I got the impression they wished I hadn't called for an appointment. Thanks.

Response from Dr. Pavia

I don't know of any reason or mechanism that a private dentist would be informed about your medical condition by an insurance company without your permission. In general, it would require your consent. However, privacy is not uncommonly violated and some laws seem to grant insurers protection not given to hospitals or doctors.

It is generally a reasonable idea to have your dentist know about your status though. In theory, all dentists will protect themselves and sterilize their instruments for *ALL* patients as if they were HIV + but, this does not always happen. From your point of view, an HIV-knowledgable dentist will look out for HIV-related problems, such as severe gingivitis, canker sores, or funny lesions that need to be investigated. This would give you the best dental care. Your local AIDS service organization probably maintains a list of dentists known to be HIV friendly and knowledgable.


Andrew T. Pavia, M.D.

Very recent infection treatment options
Hep C

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