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29 May 2009

Attitudes and practices of dentists treating patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy

Michele GiulianiADF, Carlo LajoloCDF, Alessandra SartorioB, Maria Grazia LacaitaB, Saverio CapodiferroC, Roberto CaudaEF, Giovanni RezzaG, Mario TumbarelloG

Med Sci Monit 2009; 15(6): PH49-56 :: ID: 869661

Abstract

Background
The purpose of this study was to assess dentists' attitudes when treating individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Italy.
Material and Method
A national observational study was carried out involving dentists selected from telephone directories of cities representative of the north, center, and south of Italy. An anonymous questionnaire was mailed to 8300 dentists. The first section investigated demographic data; the second section, the relationship between the dentist and persons infected with HIV, to identify the presence of discriminatory behavior and understand its rationales; and the third and fourth sections investigated dentists' scientific knowledge of HIV-related problems and the precautions normally used in the dentist's office to prevent cross-infections.
Results
Of the 8230 questionnaires that were delivered to dentists, 2112 (25.7%) were filled and returned within 6 months. 2066 dentists answered the question "Did you ever deny treatment to an HIV-infected person?" and 93 dentists (4.5%) replied "Yes." Using disposable instruments (odds ratio [OR], 1.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18-2.83; P=.007); feeling right not to treat individuals infected with HIV (OR, 2.24; 95% CI, 1.25-4.03; P=.007); and a mild level of fear in treating HIV-positive patients (OR, 4.52; 95% CI, 2.41-8.49; P=.001) were associated with refusing to treat HIV-infected persons.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest the existence of episodes of discrimination by dentists toward individuals infected with HIV. From a clinical point of view, this discriminatory behavior may expose dental health care workers and their patients to greater risk of cross-infection.

Keywords: Perception, Odds Ratio, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, HIV Seropositivity, HIV Infections - transmission, HIV - physiology, Dentists - statistics & numerical data, Demography, Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active, Questionnaires, Refusal to Treat - statistics & numerical data

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Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750
Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750