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DID DENTIST REALLY PASS ALONG HIV?

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A Florida dentist blamed for passing on the virus that causes AIDS to six patients in the 1980s may not have been the cause of their infections after all, CBS News said Friday.

In a report to be broadcast Sunday on "60 Minutes," the network says there are serious doubts over whether Dr. David Acer of Jensen Beach, Fla., infected his patients with the human immunodeficiency virus.The case was the first documented case of a health-care provider passing on the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome to patients and helped lead to sweeping changes in procedures at dental offices.

But the report, details of which CBS released in a statement, says there is compelling information that suggests Acer might not have been responsible for infecting his patients. He died from AIDS in 1990, soon after he recommended his patients be tested for the virus.

The case came to national attenion in 1990 when one of his patients, Kimberly Bergalis, went public. She died in 1991.

The CBS report also says there were problems with the reliability of genetic testing done by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which determined that Acer was the cause of the patients's infections.

At the time, officials said that DNA tests showed that the HIV strain contracted by the patients closely matched Acer's.

The report says some of the patients' sexual histories were more extensive than they admitted in their public statements and previously undisclosed behavior by some patients led one investigator to believed they could have contracted the virus elsewhere.

Bergalis' lawyer, Robert Montgomery Jr., said in a telephone interview from West Palm Beach, Florida he remained convinced Acer was responsible for his client's death.