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SEARCH FOR 5,000 IN HIV ALERT AT DENTIST; Mass warning by health chiefs.

HEALTH chiefs today launch a search for more than 5,000 patients after a dental worker was diagnosed as HIV positive.

The alert, one of the biggest in the NHS, will be officially sounded at a news conference to follow up letters to the patients.

The "health care worker", who has not been named, stopped working earlier this year when he found he had the virus which can lead to AIDS.

Most of the patients are from the Colchester and Clacton areas of Essex with about a hundred at Southend. A special phone helpline has been set up and patients will be offered counselling and a simple saliva test to put their minds at rest.

Health experts believe there is no cause for alarm.

One said last night: "The chances of anybody catching HIV from a dental worker are infinitely small. I don't believe there has ever been a case in the country."

The man worked in surgeries at Colchester, Clacton and Southend for a number of years.

Dental workers have to wear disposable gloves and are supposed to sterilise all equipment after use.

A dentist in America with HIV is believed to have infected six patients but he was thought to have ignored safety procedures.

In Britain, there have been cases of doctors, midwives, nurses and at least one dentist being diagnosed HIV positive.

One patient, mother-of-two Tracy Massey, told last night of her anguish after HIV-doctor Patrick Ngosa was at the centre of a scare in 1997.

The gynaecologist, who has since been struck off by the General Medical Council, worked at hospitals in Essex and London.

Tracy, 36, from Dagenham, had to wait four agonising days for the all-clear after an AIDS test. She said: "I prayed this would never happen again."

mcgurran@ic24.net
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Author:Mcgurran, Aidan
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 6, 2000
Words:298
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