Episode 26 looks at the issue of infection control in dentistry. You might think that this is a dry issue of interest only to dentists, it actually provides us with a lot of information about the low risk of infection by the supposed hepatitis B and C viruses and HIV even when there is plenty of blood to provide a convenient route. Dr. John Hardie discusses several cases of dentists and other medical professionals who had substandard infection control and yet did not leave a trail of infected patients behind them.
David and John spend a lot of time talking about the Dr. Acer case from the late 1980s, a dentist who the CDC tried hard to paint as the first (and so far only) dentist to ever transmit HIV to a number of patients. Even though Acer was HIV-positive, the worst possible situation, nobody could ever figure out how he might have transmitted HIV, and there was considerable evidence that his HIV-positive patients got their antibodies in some other way. His most famous patient was Kimberley Bergalis, a young woman whose emaciated figure testifying to congress became one of the most famous images of the early AIDS panic. But she was also taking high doses of the drug AZT, which can produce those very symptoms.