Dental Clinic in Wyoming Offers HIV Testing
December 14, 2006
The Dental Services program at the Community Health Center of Central Wyoming began offering HIV testing in April 2005. It has since become a model for other dental practices across the country that would like to do the same.
"You give a whole different avenue to access," said Casper-based hygienist Stacy Smith, who, along with AIDS educator Anna Kinder, implemented the program. "A lot of people don't want to take the effort to find testing, unless they are really worried." Testing for HIV in a dental clinic is beneficial because some people who get regular cleanings do not always visit the doctor's office, said Smith.
Dr. David Reznick, director of the oral health center infectious disease program at Grady Health System in Atlanta, said studies show this to be the case. The dental community has discussed the feasibility of HIV testing for years, though some were hesitant because it had never been done before, he said. "[Casper] is doing something no one else is, something I didn't think would happen," said Reznick, who sees HIV-positive patients at his clinic. "It's ground-breaking work."
To date, the program has tested about 40 patients using an oral swab. Testing has really taken off in the past couple of months, said Smith. "People are calling and making appointments for it." "It's all about access, access, access."
"We just want to make it normal, routine, just like getting a cholesterol check," said Kinder. The program is reintegrating oral health care back into primary care, said Reznick.
Reznick has received a federal grant that will allow Kinder and Smith to set up an HIV testing pilot program at a large dental clinic in Kansas City, Mo. Through this effort, they hope to put together a best practices guidebook for CDC use.
12.10.2006; Allison Rupp
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.