A doctor has received backlash by numerous HIV charities for misinformation. Dr. Nigel Carter, the chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, claimed that HIV virus can be transmitted by using the same toothbrush as a person who has the virus, despite the fact that it can't be passed on through saliva.
Dr. Carter's claims were published in articles on the Oral Health Foundation's main website. It was also published on Dentistr.co.uk. after a new study suggested that those with COVID-19 could pass the virus on to other people just by sharing toothbrushes.
Responding to the study, Dr. Carter said that there are hundreds of bacteria and viruses in a human's mouth and those sharing a toothbrush could be passing the bacteria on to others.
The doctor added that although it is harmless if the person you are sharing a toothbrush with has a common cold or cold sore, it can be dangerous if the person is infected with hepatitis B, HIV or COVID-19 and that the diseases can be passed on through toothbrush.
Debunking the claim
Dr. Carter's comments were immediately condemned by Nathan Sparling, the chief executive of HIV Scotland, who said that the claim was not true and it would contribute to stigma and misinformation.
Sparling said that he was shocked to see a senior figure being quoted as saying that HIV is passed on from sharing toothbrushes.
That sentiment it is rooted in stigma and misinformation going back 40 years ago and he can't believe that in 2020 he still has to issue a statement to clarify that there is no way that the HIV virus can be transmitted to another person by sharing toothbrushes.
Sparling continued that while sharing a toothbrush does pose other risks such as COVID-19, it does not transmit HIV and it is only a myth.
This is not the first time the Oral Health Foundation has claimed that HIV virus can be transmitted to another person by sharing toothbrushes. Back in 2019, the organization released the same comment.
The comment came after a study was released last year that a quarter of Britons share their toothbrushes with other people. Both quotes are identical, with the 2019 comment coming from Dr. Ben Atkins, dentist and trustee of the Oral Health Foundation.
Sparling told PinkNews that HIV can't be transmitted through sharing toothbrushes. He said that HIV can't be transmitted by saliva and even in blood.
Sparling added that HIV is a very fragile virus which does not survive for long at all once it is outside the body. That means that any risk linked with it, like bleeding gums, is negligible.
The only cases where HIV transmission has been attributed to a toothbrush are from the early 90s and it involved people who were not on treatment and were at late stage HIV infection, Sparling said. The cases also had other transmission routes for the cause of infection.
Also, there has not been any documented cases since and the context is now different with new and effective treatments. This means that most people who have HIV live long and healthy lives. Those who do can't pass the virus on and do not progress to a more serious stage.