Dental patients who received treatment in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Dumfries and Galloway areas are being contacted as a precaution after a former dentist who treated them was found to have the HIV infection.
The individuals are being contacted to advise of a very slight risk that they might have been exposed to the virus.
Most patients, treated by the dentist when he provided locum Sunday Emergency Dental cover at Nithbank Hospital, Dumfries between April 2004 and 2007, have been contacted by letter.
However, 14 patients no longer reside in the region and it has not been possible to trace them.
The NHS say there have been 30 similar patient notification exercises in the UK in the last 25 years. Some 10,000 people have been tested as a result and not a single person was found to have caught HIV as a result of medical or dental treatment.
Dr Syed Ahmed, NHSGGC Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said: “It is very rare for HIV to be passed from a health care practitioner to a patient because all work follows strict ‘infection control’ measures.
“These measures are designed to prevent infections like HIV being passed between people and through our investigations into this case we are confident that all appropriate infection control measures were followed by the dentist.
“Whilst we therefore think the risk is extremely low we cannot guarantee that there is no risk, so we have set up a freephone help-line where patients can ask questions and then decide if they want to have an HIV test.
“If anyone has been treated at the Kelburne Dental Surgery and has not received a letter but has concerns we would ask them to call the helpline number and we will be able to check their name against the list of individuals who we have been unable to trace.”
Dr Derek Cox, Director of Public Health, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, said: “We have identified that 247 patients were treated by this dentist. Of these we are unable to find addresses for 14, almost certainly because they no longer live in Dumfries and Galloway.
“If you were seen at a Sunday Emergency Dental clinic at Nithbank between April 2004 and April 2007 and have not yet received a letter, it is unlikely that you were treated by the dentist in question. Nevertheless, if you are concerned that you may have been missed off the list please contact the helpline.”
The confidential free phone helpline - 0800 028 2816 - will be open daily from 8.00 am to 10.00 pm from Monday 19th August 2013 until Sunday 1st September 2013.