Nov 25, 2005
Although increasing attention has been paid to the use of dental care by HIV patients, the existing studies do not use probability samples, and no accurate population estimates of use can be made from this work. The intent of the present study was to establish accurate population estimates of the use of dental services by patients under medical care. The study, part of the HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study (HCSUS), created a representative national probability sample, the first of its kind, of HIV-infected adults in medical care. Both bivariate and logistic regressions were conducted, with use of dental care in the preceding 6 months as the dependent variable and demographic, social, behavioral, and disease characteristics as independent variables. Forty-two percent of the sample had seen a dental health professional in the preceding 6 months. The bivariate logits for use of dental care show that African-Americans, those whose exposure to HIV was caused by hemophilia or blood transfusions, persons with less education, and those who were employed were less likely to use dental care (p < 0.05). Sixty-five percent of those with a usual source of care had used dental care in the preceding 6 months. Use was greatest among those obtaining dental care from an AIDS clinic (74%) and lowest among those without a usual source of dental care (12%). The authors conclude that, in spite of the high rate of oral disease in persons with HIV, many do not use dental care regularly, and that use varies by patient characteristics and availability of a regular source of dental care.