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Dental Practice, Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission and Occupational Risks: Views from a Teaching Hospital in Nigeria

Author(s): Taiwo OO*

Background: More than 40 oral manifestations of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection have been recorded and between 70% and 90% of persons with HIV infection will have at least one oral manifestation at some time during the course of their disease. Oral health‑care workers (OHCWs) are therefore, key players in the prevention and management of HIV‑infection. Aim: The aim of this study was toassess the perceptions of the OHCWs from a Teaching Hospital in Nigeria toward HIV transmission in dental practice and occupational risk. Subjects and Methods: A cross‑sectional study. A self‑administered questionnaire was used for data collection. A total of 113 OHCWs comprising students, house officers, resident doctors, dental nurses and consultants participated. Analysis was by Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 17 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Data analysis included descriptive statistics (frequency distribution and cross tabulation).Results: More than half 64/113 (56%) of the respondents were in the age group 20‑30 years and females 68/113 (60%). Though 88% (100/113) of the respondents demonstrated a good knowledge about HIV transmission, 82/113 respondents (72%) disagreed that the risk of HIV transmission in the dental clinic was very low. 82.4% (93/113) did not know that saliva contains anti‑HIV activity while 46% (52/113) agreed that pure saliva does not contain the virus except when contaminated by blood. 86.7% (98/113) of the OHCWs disagreed that dental professionals have a lower risk of being infected with HIV compared with other health‑care providers. Conclusion: The OHCWs studied manifested some inaccurate perception of occupational risks as regards HIV transmission in dental practice. This could lead to potential stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV/acquired immune deficiency syndrome and thus hindering efforts geared at curtailing the spread of the virus.


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