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Telling your GP

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It can be a good idea to tell your GP that you’re HIV positive so that they can take your health issues and treatment into account when treating you or prescribing medicines. That way you can avoid interactions between drugs prescribed by your GP and your HIV medication.

Doctors cannot refuse to treat you because you have HIV.

Would my GP tell other people about my HIV status?

No, not without permission.

All healthcare professionals, including doctors, legally have to keep your medical records confidential. This also applies to non-medical staff such as receptionists. No-one should see your medical records unless they are involved in your treatment or care.

However, it is useful for different doctors treating you to be able to share information, such as a GP and a hospital doctor; but they have to ask your permission to do so.

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 2018, you have the right to make a Subject Access Request to enable you to see your records.

Can a dentist refuse to treat me because I have HIV?

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It’s against the law for dentists to refuse to treat someone with HIV.

There’s no risk of HIV transmission during dental treatment if standard sterilisation and hygiene procedures (known as universal precautions) are taken.

If you experience discrimination, you can report it to your local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). 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. You can also report discrimination to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Do I need to tell my dentist about my HIV status?

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 would I need to tell an insurer about my HIV status?

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When applying for life insurance (or a mortgage requiring it), insurers will ask you and your GP about your HIV status.

If you lie (this is known as ‘non-disclosure’) the policy will not pay out. You could also run the risk of being blacklisted.

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.

More information

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 2018 to see your medical records, find out how to do so on the NHS website.

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.

Our healthcare section has more details about confidentiality of health records and your rights as a patient. Our online advisors might also be able to answer your questions about this.