Of all the current epidemic diseases, none strikes more fear in the minds of all alike as HIV/AIDS. The disease came to limelight in the year 1981, and the HIV epidemic spread across the globe. In 2012 it was noted that 5.1 million people in India suffer from HIV/AIDS making it the second largest country in the world with HIV/AIDS population. It is natural to fear this disease, and often there are many myths regarding HIV which still create panic, and it is our right and duty to erase this stigma.
1) How can I get HIV?
HIV can only be passed on from person to person if infected body fluids (such as blood, semen, vaginal or anal secretions and breast milk) get into your bloodstream in these ways:
- unprotected sex
- from HIV positive mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding
- injecting drugs with a needle that has infected blood in it
- infected blood donations or organ transplants
2) Can you get HIV from your dental visits?
DENTISTS and their patients are equally afraid that they might contract HIV from each other. However, in reality, the chance of you getting HIV/AIDS from your dentist is very low. Yet, the best way to protect yourself is to ensure that your dentist follows the universal sterilization and protection protocols
3) What should be the universal protection protocols my dentist should follow?
- Using Sterile instruments and devices
- Clean and disinfect all environmental surfaces which he/she and patient come in contact with
- Use of gloves, masks, and protective wear whenever there is contact with saliva and oral tissues
3) If I am HIV positive should I inform my dentist?
Yes, you should. This will ensure that the dentist follows stringent care to protect you and his other patients from cross contamination. Never avoid giving your personal medical history due to fear.
4) Can my dentist help diagnose my HIV/AIDS?
Through oral lesions, we can often assess HIV infection. certain oral diseases are strongly associated with HIV infection such as oral candidiasis [fungal infections], hairy leukoplakia, necrotizing gingivitis and periodontitis, Kaposi sarcoma and Non-Hodgkin’slymphoma.
These diseases can be used not only to diagnose HIV but also to predict the progression of HIV infection to AIDS.
In conclusion, both the dental providers and patients should remain alert to the oral conditions that may represent a manifestation of HIV infection. Implementation of Infection Control measures plays a vital role in maintaining mutual health safety of patients and dental health care workers