Growing number of dental graduates knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS
BOSTON, USA: Although maintaining oral health is very important for people living with HIV/AIDS, dental professionals sometimes have difficulty treating these patients owing to a lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS. Now, a new study conducted among U.S. dental students has found that more students are willing to treat vulnerable populations, including HIV/AIDS patients.
In order to increase access to oral health care for people with HIV/AIDS, the Health Resources and Services Administration's HIV/AIDS Bureau provides training to dentistry and dental hygiene students and postdoctoral dental residents in the management of oral health care for people with HIV through its Community-Based Dental Partnership Program. The program introduces students at several dental schools to caring for vulnerable patients through didactic and clinical work in community-based dental settings.
In order to assess the impact of the program, 305 first- through fourth-year dental students and first- and second-year residents at five dental schools across the U.S. were interviewed about their HIV/AIDS knowledge, and attitudes and behaviours towards patients with HIV/AIDS.
The results demonstrated that the participants' knowledge and positive attitudes regarding the treatment of patients with HIV/AIDS and other vulnerable populations increased over the course of the program. In addition, the survey showed that most graduates were practicing in private settings or in academic institutions as residents but were willing to treat a diverse patient population.
The study, titled "Dental Students' HIV/AIDS-Related Knowledge, Attitudes, and Intentions: Impact of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration's Community-Based Dental Partnership Program," was published in the August issue of the Journal of Dental Education. It included dental students from Boston University School of Public Health, the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine and the University of Louisville School of Dentistry.