I’m ashamed to admit but I’ve not been to a dentist in YEARS. I can’t stand the places. Men in white coats poking you with sharp tools the hygienist that simultaneously drowns you whilst telling you off for not flossing, and then they expect you to pay for it!  It’s not my idea of fun, let me tell you.

Sadly, for the first time in my life I think I’ve got a cavity. At my age I’m shocked I’ve not had one sooner to be honest. Great, a trip to the hell that is the dentist.

I called up my dentist, turns out that having not been for over four years gets you taken off their patient list (who knew?), and when I asked to re-register I was told they weren’t accepting any more patients. So began my search for a new dentist.

I found a couple online near me, there wasn’t much between them, I chose the one that’d be easiest to get to. So I’m sat in a draft waiting room, half filling in my registration forms, half watching Jeremy Kyle on the TV (he wasn’t the father, and no-one had any idea who else it could be) when I noticed a question on the form:

“Are you HIV positive?    YES/NO”

Why would my dentist need to know this? At first I thought maybe it’s to protect themselves in case there’s blood flying – but then surely they should assume every patient’s blood could contain HIV, Hep A/B/C, Malaria etc, so surely they should take ample measures whatever the patient? Then I thought maybe it’s for my benefit – you know to use super sterile kit – but I’d hope all of their equipment would be of the highest cleanliness for every single patient, regardless of HIV status?

I’ve failed to think of a single situation where my HIV status is relevant to the treatment I receive or the safety precautions the dentist should take. If I fill in ‘YES’ will I be refused treatment? If I circle ‘NO’ am I breaking the law?

In the end I circled neither. I handed my forms into the receptionist – who didn’t check them – and I saw the dentist. I’m tempted to phone back, anonymously, and ask why it was on the form – but I doubt I’d get a coherent answer from that receptionist. Let’s just hope it’s another four years before I have to go again…


Best dental wishes,



    • Yeah, so there’s no legal requirement, and they didn’t give me any drugs. So I’m alright. I already get turned down by enough guys for my HIV status, I don’t need my dentist turning me away too!

  1. Like you I am not a lover of the dentist (though to be honest, what sort of masochist is?) and was also quite taken aback by that question last time I registered. I answered, in complete honesty, ‘Haven’t recently tested’, as much to make a statement about the pointlessness of the question as anything else. Like you, I wasn’t asked any more about it so it seems that the question is just a hangover from a mercifully-past time of hysteria within the medical profession.

    Good on for you for being a brave boy and going though – not to sound like an ad for the British Dental Association but even though it’s a chore, it really is worth looking after your teeth – a nice smile and super-fresh breath make a boy (even) more kissable 😉


  2. One of the unknown side effects of HIV infection is to do with gum disease. Your dentist, armed with the knowledge of your HIV status is trained to look for signs of this and advise you of warning symptoms. Find a good dentist and they will be a help, not a reason to worry. Good luck.

  3. Want to back up Andy’s comment. My dentist found a tiny weeny KS lesion in my mouth. A telltaie sign I should go on treatment. Discovered at same tiime my CD4 count also pointed to that. Would have passed the dentist by if she didn’t know my status.

    Because of the risks of gum problems, I get dental check every six months. Think the recommended period of time Is two years if you’re not HIV.

    • That was the reason I told them, I had had KS on my foot and the Oncologist said the mouth was a common area for them to appear.

  4. just like others have stated above it is because there are underlining conditions with HIV that can occur which professionals will be able to spot easier with the information at hand, but also because as u said its to protect thenselfs but at the same time u can only protect urself so much as with all healthcare professionals wether they are nurses, doctors, dentists, careers or other professionals theres always still a chance, for example theres a high procentage of nurses that have needle stick injuries. its easier with professionals in the hospital if something happens they can just go down to occupational health and get a test etc. where dentists dont have that type of facility so need to know the risks as if they prick thenselfs they need to get to a hospital immediately. but yea i know it does happen but u shouldn’t be discriminated against for any reason.

  5. I had the same dilemma. I told them. All they asked was what meds I was on. Easy! Bf did the same – all cool!


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