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U.S. News

South Carolina: Free Dental Clinic Helping AIDS Patients Smile

October 24, 2006

The Columbia Oral Health Clinic (COHC), which provides free dental services for low-income Midlands residents living with HIV/AIDS, recently won one of four excellence awards given annually by the federal National Health Service Corps to organizations that serve the primary care needs of underserved communities.

COHC was founded seven years ago by Marilyn Curry, a Bristol-Myers Squibb executive and HIV/AIDS advocate, after she found many dentists were reluctant to treat HIV-positive patients. "It was just appalling," she said. For people with immune systems weakened by HIV, keeping the mouth healthy is key to staving off oral infections and maintaining proper nutrition.

COHC started with a garage space and X-ray machine donated by a local church. Atlanta Dental Supply Co. donated repaired equipment. Dr. David Reznik, who started a similar clinic in Atlanta, helped pull everything together, while Dr. John C. Stuart treated the clinic's patients after wrapping up his day job at the VA hospital.

The nonprofit clinic is open twice a week, offering services such as cleanings, fillings, extractions, and full and partial dentures. More than 800 clients have undergone 13,000 procedures since COHC opened.

COHC's annual operating budget of around $275,000 relies on federal funds and donations from individuals and organizations like the AIDS Benefit Foundation of South Carolina, the Palmetto Health Office of Community Services and Holy Cross Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

For more information, telephone 803-799-9457 or write

Back to other news for October 24, 2006

Adapted from:
The State (Columbia)
10.18.2006; Czerne M. Reid

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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