Oral health practitioners and HIV/AIDS: Knowledge,attitudes and practices

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Mathabathe, Nkhensani
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South Africa is ranked as the country with largest number of people living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the world. Oral health care workers have a role to play in the national response to the HIV epidemic through the provision of quality oral health services. The aim of this study was to determine the knowledge, attitudes and practices of oral hygienists and dental therapists on HIV/AIDS. A total of 1160 questionnaires were mailed to 831 oral hygienists and 329 dental therapists registered with the Health Professionals Council of South Africa in 2000. The questionnaire covered: demographic factors; general and oral health-specific HIV/AIDS knowledge; attitudes towards HIV/AIDS patients; infection control practices and ethical/legal issues. The response rate was 27.4% (n=318), 255 oral hygienists and 63 dental therapists. Overall, respondents in this study illustrated sound knowledge on oral manifestations of HIV/AIDS and modes of transmission of the virus although 10% reported that the virus could be transmitted through mosquito bites and 25% agreed that HIV could be transmitted via saliva. Respondents reported compliance with basic infection control practices although 35% did not agree that infection control measures that protect against the hepatitis B virus could provide adequate protection against HIV. In addition 73.8% of the respondents reported that additional infection control measures must be taken in the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients in the dental surgery. The results of this study indicate a need for continuous HIV professional education of oral hygienists and dental therapists in order to improve the quality of care provided to HIV infected patients.
Faculty of Health Sciences School of Public Health 8900179x nmathabathe@eun.org.za
HIV,AIDS , Oral health care , Practitioners , Knowlegde , Attitudes