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April 6, 1994

The Dental AIDS Cases—Murder or an Unsolvable Mystery?

JAMA. 1994;271(13):983. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510370035022

To the Editor.  —Contrary to what is implied by Dr Harold Jaffe's remarks in the article by Mr Breo1 on the dental acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases, it is not my theory that Dr David Acer infected his patients with contaminated dental equipment. I do theorize that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can potentially be transmitted from patient to patient by dental equipment reprocessed with germicides, especially when the devices are only wiped externally, as has been common practice. Results demonstrating that proviral DNA from HI V-infected patients entered certain types of dental equipment in clinical trials, escaped cleaning, and was later expelled by the equipment (potentially into other patients' mouths) were published.2 These same studies showed that hepatitis B DNA, as well as live virus (bacteriophage), could be transmitted by the equipment in laboratory experiments. We also published dye studies determining the amounts of blood and saliva