This site is intended for health professionals only

HIV health worker restriction review underway

‘Out-of-step' restrictions imposed on HIV positive healthcare workers could be relaxed in a government review launched today.

Around 110 healthcare workers with HIV in England are currently not allowed to perform most surgical or dental procedures.

However, it is claimed the risk of HIV transmission from a healthcare worker who is undiagnosed and untreated is “extremely low” for the most invasive procedures such as open cardiac surgery - estimated at around one in five million.

A collaborative review by expert advisory groups on investigations involving the testing of 10,000 patients for HIV found there have been no reported transmissions of HIV from healthcare workers.

The review also highlighted that the UK is only among a handful of countries to have such “tight” restrictions for HIV healthcare workers.

“It is right that we now consider our current guidelines to reflect what the science is telling us about the risk of HIV transmission from healthcare workers with HIV to patients,” said Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies. 

Professor Brian Gazzard, Chairman of the Expert Advisory Group on AIDS, said the current restrictions on healthcare workers with HIV are now out of step with the evidence around risk of transmission.

“I welcome the government's consultation on lifting the working restrictions facing health care workers who are living with HIV,” said Professor Jane Anderson, Chair of the British HIV Association.

“Treatment improvements for HIV make the risks to patients vanishingly small and the time has come to review the situation.

“Changing this regulation with be a very welcome step that will help reduce the stigma and discrimination that is associated with HIV infection.”

Expert Advisory Group on AIDS