Hundreds of children in Palm Beach County, Fla., will be tested for acquired immune deficiency syndrome after their orthodontist revealed that he is infected.
Three days after being diagnosed with AIDS, Robert A. Engel closed his practice in the affluent community of Wellington and wrote a letter to about 750 patients and parents.
"I am very sorry for any anxiety this may cause to anyone," said Engel, 37, in the letter dated Friday and mailed Monday.
The Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services has set up an emergency center at Wellington Regional Medical Center, where Engel's patients can be tested and counseled about their fears beginning today.
Engel's revelation comes at a time when medical professionals and lawmakers throughout the country are debating the merits of making AIDS tests mandatory for health-care workers.
Gov. Lawton Chiles said yesterday that he planned to ask the legislature today to rework existing bills, currently tied up in committees, so that health-care workers who test positive for the human immunodeficiency virus must report the findings to their professional boards.
However, Chiles said he had not decided whether health-care workers should be forced to notify their patients if they have the AIDS virus.