Nepal: Research on combating HIV and AIDS through dental screening

dental work Fran Gaunt

Title Research in combating HIV and AIDS through dental screening
Description Publication of an open-access journal article in order to promote the importance of dental screening for HIV/AIDS
Status Completed
Dates Start: May 2014; End: June 2014
Implementing partner Sparsha Nepal
Location Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
Sector Learning

Situation

In Nepal, there is a lack of knowledge regarding oral manifestations of HIV/AIDS and a lack of access for proper dental treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS. This project sought to raise awareness of the role that dental screening can make for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Partner

Cyan International part-funded the publishing of the journal article, written by three staff working with a Nepali NGO, Sparsha Nepal. The Society for Positive Atmosphere and Related Support to HIV and AIDS (SPARSHA) is a community-supported NGO which focuses on reducing stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS through preventative messages, treatment, care and support services, and capacity building. Sparsha Nepal, registered in 2004, is run by and for people living with HIV and AIDS and their friends.

Response

Through the publication of this research, results of the study has been valuably added into the wider knowledge and understanding of HIV related oral manifestations and have clearly emphasised the importance of dental screening. A quantitative screening study used both structured questionnaire and clinical examination to determine the prevalence of HIV-OL (oral lesions) in 83 adults living with HIV, randomly selected from a list of service users at Sparsha Nepal, a community based HIV organisation.

Results of the screening revealed a 40% prevalence of HIV-OL in this population where 71 were under Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). 6 of 12 patients not taking ART were found to have stage 3 or 4 HIV-OL. 46 (55%) of the study population had poor or very poor oral hygiene and 29 (35%) had never had an oral examination, 36 (43%) had attended only for extraction. Only 4 of 54 patients who had previously accessed oral health care had revealed their HIV status to the dentist at that time.

Outcomes

It is evident that publishing this research will contribute to widen the body of knowledge and understanding in terms of service delivery, dental examinations and monitoring of HIV-OL, not only in Nepal, but in other developing areas of the world, where these services lack. It is clear that wider access to oral healthcare is required for people living with HIV in Kathmandu Valley and in this setting HIV-OL are still an important consideration in assessing patients living with HIV, which can have therapeutic implications.

To read the journal article in full, follow this link.

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