Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Your Dental Provider's Role in Early Detection of HIV

It is commonly known that early detection of HIV combined with advances in treatment can give individuals more years, more options, and more hope.  The dental community can be the first line of defense in identifying possible signs of HIV.  Dental teams have a unique opportunity to identify individuals who may be HIV-positive and unaware of their status. There are oral conditions which may indicate the existence of HIV such as thrush (candidiasis), enlarged saliva glands, mouth ulcers and dry mouth. Once identified, the dental practitioner then has the opportunity to discuss, counsel, and offer referral for HIV testing and treatment. Early diagnosis can significantly improve the health & longevity of infected people. Additionally, with early diagnosis the number of people who know their HIV status increases, which can also be helpful to reduce the number of new cases, as once people are aware of their infection, they are significantly less likely to put others at risk of transmission. Currently, some dental offices are conducting rapid HIV testing.  This may be an especially appropriate venue in a public health dental facility or private practice in areas that have high reports of HIV infection. It has been reported that possibly one of every five people living with HIV in the U.S. is unaware of their HIV status. In recent years, with the advances in medicine, people are now living longer and thriving with HIV infection. The earlier they can be diagnosed and begin treatment, the better the outcome.

Stay well and Keep Smiling!  

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