Bringing Rapid HIV Testing to Dentistry

An interesting study has been performed by the University of Sydney in 2014, looking at the possibility of using rapid HIV testing before dental surgery. The study assessed 521 Sydney based dental patients and their willingness to undergo rapid HIV testing in dental settings, their preference for HIV testing type, and their willingness to pay for the HIV test. More than 80% of the patients in the study were found to be willing to undergo rapid HIV testing before a dental procedure.

The technology behind a rapid HIV test has been around for more than a decade but it not currently available in dental settings. The test can be done as a finger prick or a saliva swab. The results of the HIV test can be determined within 20 minutes.

The Australian Federal government announced in July 2014, that they would no longer prevent the manufacture and sale of oral home-testing kits for HIV.  In the study, 76% preferred an oral saliva swab, 15% preferred a pin prick test, and 8% preferred a traditional blood test that draws blood through a needle.

The researchers further believe that around 45% of dentists are prepared to perform HIV testing in their clinic. The researchers feel that rapid HIV testing in a dental setting can help reduce the spread of the virus by informing those who may not realize they have HIV that they in fact do.

Having rapid HIV testing available in dental clinics may also provide further reassurances for patients. In the past, I have posted several times where in the U.S. dental patients were potentially infected with HIV. See for example, Dental Patients Warned of Possible HIV and Hepatitis Exposure in Pennsylvania and Dental Patients Warned of Possible HIV and Hepatitis Exposure Due to Oral Surgeon’s Practices.

Source: University of Sydney. July 15, 2014.

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