Should you tell dentist, GP or insurer that you are HIV positive? Here are a few things you should consider.
It can be sensible to tell your GP that you are HIV positive because, when treating you or prescribing medicines, they need to know about other health issues and medicines you take. This can avoid interactions between drugs prescribed by your GP and your HIV medication.
Doctors cannot refuse to treat you because you have HIV.
No, not without permission.
All healthcare professionals, including doctors, legally have to keep your medical records confidential. This applies to non-medical staff such as receptionists. No-one should see your medical records unless they are involved in your treatment and care.
A doctor may have to reveal medical information about you if forced to by a court or requested by the police, or if they think somebody’s life is at risk. This is very rare.
If you have disclosed your HIV status to your GP, your doctor will probably note it in your medical records. Under the Data Protection Act, you have the right to make a Subject Access Request to enable you to see your records.
It is against the law for dentists to refuse to treat someone with HIV.
There is no risk of HIV transmission during dental treatment if standard sterilisation and hygiene procedures are taken.
If you experience discrimination, you can report it to your local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) or the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Each area has its own PALS so if you search online you should be able to find your local branch. If not, ask at your HIV clinic or surgery.
The benefits of telling your dentist about your HIV status are that they can check for HIV-related gum problems, and ensure that any medicines they use don’t interact with HIV drugs.
When applying for life insurance or a mortgage requiring it, insurers will ask you and your GP about your HIV status.
If you lie (known as ‘non-disclosure’) the policy will not pay out.
Insurance industry guidelines say you can legally be asked about your HIV status, about whether you have had a sexually transmitted infection in the last five years, whether you have lived or travelled abroad, had blood transfusions or surgery abroad or whether you inject drugs.
NAM has a booklet you may find useful called HIV, GPs and Other Primary Care.
If you want to make a Subject Access Request under the Data protection Act to see your medical records, find out how to do so here.
To find out more about the Equality Act, an anti-discrimination law which states that healthcare professionals cannot legally refuse to treat you because you have HIV, visit gov.uk.
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It would be useful to have more information about telling insurers.
I am newly diagnosed with HIV and have had health insurance through my employer for several years. Am I obliged to tell them? Should I tell them? As communications with the insurer generally go via my employer, does that mean I'm outing myself at work?
Also, regarding dentists, the THT "Your Decision" leaflet I was given has a bit more information than this article.
It would be very useful if this section went into a little more detail about issues like this.
I would agree with the comment below - I am in a similar situation, I am currently not being treated and have private medical and life insurance policies, what should I be doing?
This article was last reviewed on
by Anna Peters
Date due for the next review: 8/6/2016
Content Author: Kerri Virani
Current Owner: Health trainers
Definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010, November 2014, gov.uk
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Health - What are health records?, Information Commissioner's Office
Equality Act 2010 - What do I need to know? - A summary guide to your rights, July 2010, gov.uk
Dental care, October 2012, NAM aidsmap
What insurers can ask you, June 2012, NAM aidsmap
Life insurance, August 2013, NAM aidsmap
Confidentiality, January 2014, NAM aidsmap
Danny was one of the first people to get diagnosed with HIV in the UK.
CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau
HIV Drug Interactions
George House Trust
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