11,000 Australians who went to the dentist may be at risk of exposure to HIV and Hepatitis

Photo: Getty Images

About 11,000 Australians will soon get letters telling them they may be at risk of exposure to HIV and hepatitis after reports of improperly sterilised dental equipment used at Sydney dental clinics.

NSW Health says 12 dental practitioners are involved in serious infection control breaches, now the subject of investigations.

A NSW health department spokesperson said the risk of infection is low and at there was “no evidence of infection at this point”.

The spokesperson said there was a heightened risk for people who had an “evasive procedure” in the last 10 years, typically involving “instruments into the gum and more complex dentistry”.

Problems arose with infection control and an “array of problems including with the cleaning of instruments, the functioning of sterilising equipment and the knowledge of doctors”.

The department advised affected patients to see their GP and be tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Patients of affected NSW dentists can call a special information hotline, 1800 610 344.

Practices under investigation include The Gentle Dentist in Sydney’s CBD and Surry Hills, owned by dentist Samson Chan and practices in Bondi Junction and Campsie, owned by Robert Starkenburg.

Fairfax Media reports Dr Starkenburg and four dentists from The Gentle Dentist clinics have been suspended from practice, while another three from The Gentle Dentist have had conditions placed on their registration.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.