Dentists cited as integral to ending HIV epidemic by 2030

The Declaration for the 8th World Workshop on Oral Health (WW8) in HIV/AIDS, held from 13 to 15 September 2019, has singled out the important role of oral health professionals in managing patients living with HIV.

More than half of these patients exhibit oral symptoms in the early stages of the disease, causing issues with chewing, swallowing and tasting food and so oral health professionals play a key role in not treating these symptoms but often in diagnosing HIV-positive people in the first place.

Drawing on the collective experience and knowledge of 640 delegates from around the world which included specialists in oral medicine and public health, WW8 acknowledged that the work of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) that aims to end the global epidemic by 2030, “could be significantly enhanced by improving the current level of knowledge in health care professionals and the public at large.”

Integral to this goal is the need “to eliminate the stigma of HIV/AIDS” and “to improve accessibility and compliance with effective therapy in order to stop HIV transmission” which the Declaration states could be achieved through educational programs that promote the following three elements:

1.That the role of dental professionals is recognized as an integral part of the healthcare team committed to achieving the aims of UNAIDS.

2.HIV education of dental students and dental healthcare workers should be an essential element of the dental curriculum to ensure the profession has the appropriate knowledge and attitudes to manage people living with HIV.

3.That public health programmes make certain that the general public is aware of HIV testing and the role of dental healthcare workers in facilitating this: thereby further normalizing attitudes to people living with HIV.

FDI President Dr Gerhard k. Seeberger welcomed the Declaration’s intent.

“This Declaration is a key step in affirming the role of oral health professionals as essential players in delivering effective, multi-disciplinary care to patients living with HIV.”

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