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Does my dentist need to know about my HIV?

Dentists often ask new patients whether they have HIV.  You don’t need to respond to this question if you don’t want to.  However, there are benefits to telling your dentist.  People with HIV are more likely to have particular dental problems, particularly at low CD4 counts.  Your dentist may also prescribe medication such as sedatives (for people with dental phobia) which could interact badly with your HIV medication. 

If you do tell your dentist your HIV status, they must keep this confidential.1 

Will my dentist treat me differently because of my HIV?

Some people living with HIV have had the experience of dentists taking extra measures to protect against HIV transmission. This includes restricting how and when patients with HIV can access services – for example, only on the last appointment of the day, to allow for extra cleaning afterwards. Others have been told they would have to pay above the usual NHS rates for dental services. But such measures are not necessary and are discriminatory.1  Dentists should use ‘universal precautions’ to prevent infection for all patients, regardless of whether they are known to have HIV.  


This resource was proposed by an advisory board, attended by an expert panel of voluntary sector/patient organisations. The writing of the resource was undertaken by NAT (National AIDS Trust). Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited (MSD) funded and attended the advisory board, and had the opportunity to check the resource for accuracy and balance. Final editorial control was held by NAT, taking account of input from the advisory board members and other experts.