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AIDS Care. 2007 Apr;19(4):532-8.

Oral health needs of HIV/AIDS orphans in Gauteng, South Africa.

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University of Limpopo, School of Dentistry, MEDUNSA, Stomatological Studies, Pretoria, South Africa.


To care for HIV/AIDS orphans will put health and social services in South Africa before a major challenge. Published clinical information on South and Southern African HIV-positive children is limited to hospitalized children. A cross-sectional, prospective study was conducted on a convenience sample of HIV-positive children, living in orphanages in Gauteng, South Africa, in order to determine the oral health needs of the children. Five homes for abandoned/orphaned HIV/AIDS children were visited, 11 caregivers, excluding the nursing sisters (registered nurses), were interviewed to determine their knowledge regarding oral health. An oral examination was performed on 87 children who were not receiving antiretroviral treatment. The caregivers were knowledgeable regarding pseudomembranous candidiasis but all lacked knowledge on oral hygiene procedures and the cariogenic potential of a baby bottle. The mean age of the children ranged between 3.2 and 7 years, with one home having children older than 11 years. Rampant early childhood caries in 19 (21.8%) children was the major finding, with 5 children suffering severe pain from multiple carious teeth. In the hospice section of the homes all 12 children had clinically detectable candidiasis, while in 4 (33.3%) there was an associated bleeding and ulceration of the oral mucosa, impairing their ability to eat. The findings indicate a training need among caregivers regarding the oral health of children and a role for health professionals in preventing oral diseases and reducing suffering.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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