About 12,000 dental patients in Sydney are at risk of having contracted HIV or other blood-borne viruses after an investigation found equipment has not been sterilised and cleaned properly in practices across the city.
NSW Health has confirmed six dentists have had their registration suspended and one dentist’s practice has been closed after patient complaints in November and December last year led to the discovery of breaches in infection control.
Patients of the Gentle Dentist in Campsie and the Sydney CBD, and Dr Robert Starkenburg’s clinics in Surry Hills and Bondi Junction, who have had invasive surgeries are being told to get tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C.
Starkenburg’s practice has been closed.
NSW Health’s director of health protection, Jeremy McAnulty, emphasised there was a “low risk” of infection and to date the department had found no evidence that any patient had been infected by any blood-borne virus as a result of the breaches.
Asked why patients were being informed only now, although investigations began last year, McAnulty said there had been an “intensive” investigation and the patients were being written to individually.
“It’s useful for people to know whether or not they’re infected with blood-borne viruses, there are treatments available,” he said.
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