The number of Australian adults living with hepatitis C is increasing and is not confined to any one section of the population. Dentists need to be aware that hepatitis C may be present in the saliva of infected patients. Our infection control practices therefore need to be exemplary to avoid spread of this, and other blood-borne viruses. Dentists are in a position to support medical advice that infected patients undergo antiviral treatment where appropriate and address secondary factors associated with liver disease in these patients.
Any dentists who carry a blood-borne virus have a professional and ethical responsibility to review the way they practise so as to ensure that they minimise the likelihood of infecting their patients. The Australian Dental Association offers advice and co-operation that should be sought.