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What to Tell Dentist?
Mar 4, 1998

I recently found out I am HIV+, at virtually the same time my partner was diagnosed with AIDS (hospitalization with PCP). We both go to the same dentist--I have been a patient for 5 years and my partner for one year. Of course, I will discuss our condition with him, but I wonder if it is proper for me to allow him to opt out of treating us if he is uncomfortable with the prospect? We live in the San Francisco Bay area, and so will not have a problem finding a new dentist if need be. Am I correct that--ethically--my dentist should continue to treat us?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Like other health care workers, dentists are expected to provide care to people with HIV and face possible litigation if they do not. I encourage you to approach your dentist as the professional he is and advise him of your status out of respect for his precautions while expecting that he will continue to provide care. A good dentist who is HIV-knowledgeable will probably engage you in a conversation about this that will increase your comfort with the situation.

Nancy Breuer

Informed supervisor concerned about disclosure
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