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Dentist Offices Becoming Ideal for HIV Testing

Jul 24, 2014

By Felicia Papier

Groundbreaking results that could change both dentistry and the global fight against HIV were revealed last week at the Sydney University HIV Testing Symposium.  With more than 80% of oral health patients willing to receive rapid HIV testing during their dental visits, the spread of HIV could be drastically reduced.

Rapid HIV testing is completed in several different ways such as a finger prick for a blood sample or a saliva swab. This screening test quickly detects the presence of HIV antibodies in a person’s body and results are obtained in about 20 minutes. 

Even though the rapid testing for HIV technology has been available for over a decade, it is not readily available in dental offices.  Partial reasoning is that dentists don’t feel comfortable doing the work of medical doctors and never adapted HIV testing in their practices.  That is slowly changing with lifted government restrictions on the cross pollination of medical services with different types of doctors. 

One of the positives of dental practices testing is that patient visits are regularly scheduled, whereas people usually only visit their doctor when they are ill.  "Dentists are well placed to offer rapid HIV testing because they're located throughout the community, have ongoing relationships with their patients, and have the necessary training and expertise to recognize systemic diseases that have oral manifestations, such as HIV/AIDS," says the study's lead author, Dr. Anthony Santella of the University of Sydney.

Of those willing to participate in rapid testing within a dental setting, 76% preferred the oral saliva swab, 15% preferred the finger prick and 8% wanted a traditional blood test.

Rapid testing for HIV would have a worldwide effect and help meet the goal that researchers have of eliminating the disease by 2020.  The study also confirmed that about 45% of dentists feel willing and able to perform the testing.  Areas of high HIV risk would benefit greatly from the testing by creating an informed community and that could slow the spread of the disease.  

Sources: medicalnewstoday, AIDSvu.org

Copyright 2014, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC©

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