Area health officials are making it easier for under- and uninsured Riverside County HIV/AIDS patients to access dental services. Thanks to an agreement between Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the Riverside County Public Health Department's dental clinic in Rubidoux will provide this care through Feb. 29, 2012. About five appointments per week will be reserved for HIV patients, said Victoria Jauregui Burns, director of Riverside County's HIV/AIDS program.

The Riverside health department will receive about $88,000 for the dental program. The money comes from a grant San Bernardino County was awarded to provide HIV/AIDS services, including dental and health care, said Burns.

The agreement means local patients can now see a dentist closer to where they live, instead of having to go to the Social Action Community Health System Clinic in San Bernardino or Desert AIDS Project (DAP) in Palm Springs. "There has not been a provider in western Riverside County," said Burns. "There's going to be access to dental care on this side of the county."

DAP CEO David Brinkman said he expects the Rubidoux clinic will boost access to care. "We have about 600 patients in [dental] care. I bet there are another 600 who could use dental care," he said. "Most of them don't have insurance, and access to dental care is hard to come by."

Qualifying patients must meet the program's financial conditions. Services will be free for those earning less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level, below $2,723 per month for a one-person household. Patients with higher incomes will be charged on a sliding scale.

HIV-positive persons wishing to schedule an appointment should telephone 951-358-6037.