Presently HIV positive health workers cannot perform surgery or dental treatment due to the risk of transmission, in case they cut themselves with their instruments and infect patients with their blood. The Department of Health wants to lift the current ban because it claims that this risk of transmission to patients is negligible.
Research undertaken by the NHS suggests the risk of a patient catching HIV from their doctor, dentist or surgeon is less than 1 in 5 million, similar to that of being killed by lightning. This risk can be further reduced by ensuring that infected members of staff take medications to reduce their virus count, which means it cannot easily be passed on.
So far Britain has not recorded any case of patients catching HIV from a healthcare worker. The Department of Health has launched a consultation on its proposals to lift the ban and will gather feedback from organizations and the public till 9th March 2012. The final decision will come after that.