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Perception of HIV risk and reported compliance with universal precautions: a comparison of Australian dental hygienists and dentists.

Journal of dental hygiene : JDH / American Dental Hygienists' Association

Western Australia, Universal Precautions, Risk Factors, Questionnaires, prevention & control, etiology, Occupational Diseases, Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional, Infection Control, Dental, Humans, transmission, HIV Infections, statistics & numerical data, psychology, Dentists, Dental Hygienists, Attitude of Health Personnel

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      Abstract

      This paper describes the perceived risk of occupationally contracting HIV and reported compliance with universal precaution guidelines among Australian dental hygienists and dentists. This examination is based upon responses to a mailed questionnaire from all registered dental hygienists (63% response rate, n = 208) and dentists (76% response rate, n = 550) in Western Australia. Results indicate that: 1) oral healthcare providers who perceive a high risk of occupationally contracting HIV report a more conservative, cautious approach to HIV infection than do providers who perceive less risk of contracting the virus; 2) dental hygienists are more likely than dentists to report a higher degree of perceived risk of occupationally contracting HIV; and 3) dentists are more likely than dental hygienists to report compliance with universal precaution guidelines in the dental practices where they work. Educating oral healthcare providers on the realistic risks of occupationally contracting HIV and the value of compliance with universal precaution guidelines may reduce undue stress and hindrances in the provision of safe and effective oral healthcare in this era of AIDS.

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