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Dental health care workers' response to the HIV epidemic.

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      Random samples of Minnesota DHCWs were surveyed in late 1989 regarding HIV-related and infection control KAPs. Response rates were: dentists 69% (438/631); hygienists 73% (439/603); and assistants 56% (384/691). More than 50% of DHCWs said they did not have sufficient information to safely and effectively provide care for HIV-infected patients. Use of infection control techniques varied considerably. Parenteral injuries were relatively high, but only 5% of DHCWs believed they could have been exposed to HIV from these occurrences, and few DHCWs sought medical evaluation. Less than 45% of offices had a blood/body fluid exposure staff protocol, and few offices had a policy for HIV-infected staff. Nearly twice as many DHCWs said offices have an ethical versus a legal duty to treat HIV-infected persons. Low percentages of DHCWs believed the private practice dental office is the best place to treat HIV-infected patients, but approximately 50% said they would provide care. Twenty percent indicated that a diagnosed HIV-infected person had been seen at their office. Seventy-six percent said staff had been uncomfortable treating HIV-infected patients, 14% said staff had refused to treat, and 10% said referrals were difficult. DHCWs exhibited substantial improvements in their HIV-related KAPs compared to previous surveys. Nevertheless, additional cognitive and behavioral changes are necessary to ensure that all DHCWs provide care with the highest technical, legal, and ethical standards for all patients.

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      [1 ] Minnesota Department of Health.
      Am J Dent
      American journal of dentistry
      Jun 1992
      : 5
      : 3


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