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Ideas and Opinions |

The 1990 Florida Dental Investigation: Is the Case Really Closed?

Stephen Barr, MA
[+] Article and Author Information

For the current author address, see end of text. Requests for Reprints: Stephen Barr, 52 Thomas Street, Metuchen, NJ 08840.


Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1996;124(2):250-254. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-124-2-199601150-00009
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In 1994, a magazine article, a newspaper article, and a segment of the television newsmagazine 60 Minutes presented information that cast doubt on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's conclusion that a dentist in Florida had infected six of his patients with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).These reports were based on previously unavailable documentary evidence, which suggested that the infected patients had unreported or undetected risk factors for HIV infection and that the molecular analyses used to determine that the dentist and his patients had the same strains of HIV had potentially serious flaws.

A recent article in this journal sought to dismiss the relevance of this information in the eyes of the scientific community.That report, however, failed to respond directly to many key pieces of evidence, and it offered no rebuttal beyond personal invective and a reassertion of previously published material. Although scientists and clinicians should not rely solely on media reports when drawing conclusions about this complex and controversial case, they deserve a chance to consider and reflect on this material in a meaningful way.

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