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Med Care. 1991 Aug;29(8):745-54.

Perceived need for dental care among persons living with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

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  • 1University of Alabama School of Dentistry, Birmingham 35294.


Compromised oral health holds significant implications for the general health of medically vulnerable, HIV infected individuals. Past studies have reported that these individuals frequently suffer from oral opportunistic infections and have a tendency to develop severe periodontal disease. This study extends past research by examining the prevalence of oral infections according to patient characteristics and by reporting, for the first time, the level of perceived dental need in a large, multi-site sample of individuals with symptomatic HIV disease. Data for this study come from a survey of 857 clients of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's AIDS Health Services Program in 9 U.S. cities. More respondents (52%) reported a need for dental care than for any other service need. Multivariate analysis showed that clients who were white, in low-income groups, used intravenous drugs, or had a past history of oral opportunistic infections were more likely to report dental need. Relations between age, gender, insurance status, or disease status and perceived need were statistically nonsignificant. Forty-seven percent of the clients reported they had an oral opportunistic infection, the second outcome variable examined in this study. Statistically significant differences (P less than 0.05) were found in the prevalence of oral opportunistic infections among race and disease severity groups. Whites and the more severely ill were more likely to report an infection than their respective counterparts.

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