Calls to bring HIV testing to the dental chair

Public health experts in the US are calling on dentists to carry out tests for HIV.

Approximately one in 10 Americans visit a dentist but not a physician each year, according to the Centres for Disease Control.
About a quarter of HIV positive people do not know their status.

One New York dentist is already carrying out the tests.

Dr Catrise Austin, who has tested some 100 patients for HIV at VIP Smiles, her New York City clinic, since July, said: ‘The topic of HIV can be uncomfortable for some, so we decided we would talk about it with patients in a matter-of-fact way, the way we talk about cavities and gum disease.’

To test for the virus, dentists can swipe a patient’s upper and lower gums and within 20 minutes, the swab will change colours to indicate a positive or negative.

The test is called OraSure Advance and tests for antibodies in the blood system.

It uses an oral swab which dentists take under the upper and lower lips and place in a developing solution directly at the beginning of dental appointments.

New York city is funding dental HIV testing programs at Metropolitan Hospital, Harlem Hospital and Jacobi Medical Centre, as well as small community dental clinics.

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