11,000 dental patients could be at risk of HIV, hepatitis

A New South Wales Health spokesman said at least 11,000 patients of two dental operators were at "low risk" because of poor cleaning and sterilisation practices.

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Health authorities have said thousands of Sydney dental patients may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis.

A New South Wales Health spokesman said at least 11,000 patients of two dental operators were at "low risk" because of poor cleaning and sterilisation practices.

The erring clinics were operated by Gentle Dental clinics at Campsie in Sydney's south-west and in the central business district, and by Dr Robert Starkenburg at Surry Hills and Bondi Junction.

According to BBC, patients who had invasive procedures at four practices in the Sydney region could be at risk.

Said patients are now being contacted by the authorities.

According to local media reports said the 75-year-old Dr Starkenburg, who was stood down by the Australian Dental Council, admitted his hygiene practices may have been "lax at times" while Dr Samson Chan from the Gentle Dentist centres had his registration suspended in March this year, along with four other dentists who worked at the practice.

HIV and Hepatitis are blood-borne infectious diseases.

Based on this, a NSW health spokesman said anyone who had invasive procedures at any of the clinics should consult their doctor about tests for blood-borne illnesses.

He however stressed that this was for people who had an invasive procedure, "not just a regular check up, but invasive instruments into the gum and more complex dentistry."

Maintaining that the there was a low risk of infection in the circumstances, he said "the issue is if a patient with a blood-borne virus attended one of these practices and the instruments used were not sterilised properly."

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