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Dentist Comes Out of Retirement to Treat HIV-Positive Patients

August 5, 2002

Dr. Frank Green is giving some Chattanooga-area residents a reason to smile. The 79-year-old dentist came out of retirement last year to treat HIV-infected people who need dental care. Health care officials said Green is the only dentist willing to staff the Chattanooga-Hamilton County dental clinic where HIV- infected people can receive treatment. The clinic was unused for two years before Green, a former president of the Chattanooga Area Dental Society, arrived in October 2001, officials said. "Though attitudes are beginning to change, I believe many dentists are afraid to work exclusively with HIV/AIDS patients because they feel it will hurt their regular practice. And they may be right," said Green, who retired from dentistry 15 years ago after a 40-year career.

Paul Scott, executive director at Chattanooga CARES, a support group for people with HIV/AIDS, said 40 HIV-infected clients were on a waiting list to see a dentist when Green began working at the clinic. He said some of those patients had waited up to three years to receive dental treatment. Most funding for the dental services at the health department comes from the Ryan White Dental Program. The program will pay for a dental clinic in Chattanooga CARES' new north Chattanooga facility, scheduled to open in November.

Scott said that, though no dentists have agreed to work at the new Chattanooga CARES dental clinic, he thinks that will change. Green said he will give a presentation in October to the local dental society about treating people infected with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. He said he hopes it will change any misconceptions about those diseases. Dr. David Reznik, president of HIVdent, a nonprofit coalition of health care professionals promoting access to dental treatment for the HIV/AIDS population, said it is unlawful to refuse treatment to a patient solely based on HIV status.

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Excerpted from:
Chattanooga Times
07.30.02; Karen Nazor Hill

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