Preventing HIV transmission in Nigeria: role of the dentists|
Azodo, Clement Chinedu; Ehizele, Adebola Oluyemisi; Umoh, Agnes & Ogbebor, Gabriel
Background: As healthcare providers, dentists are in a unique position to foster behavioural changes that are needed to stem the spread of HIV infection. This study was conducted to assess the role of dentists in the prevention of HIV transmission in Nigeria.
Methods: This descriptive cross-sectional survey was conducted from June 2006 to January 2007. A multi-stage sampling technique was used to select 300 practising dentists from all parts of Nigeria. Data were collected through a self-administered questionnaire that focused on dentist demographic details, attitudes towards treating HIV-infected persons, involvement in public or clinic-based patient education on HIV and infection control.
Results: Two hundred and fifty-seven questionnaires were returned completed, constituting an 86% response rate. The majority of respondents (77.8%) had their dental practice in the southern part of Nigeria, and 89% were in the age bracket of 21-40 years. HIV education by dentists was ranked as poor, as less than a quarter of respondents routinely educated patients on HIV in the clinic. Only a few dentists (33.3%) were involved in public enlightenment programme on HIV in the previous 12 months. Most of the respondents (93%) reported a willingness to treat HIV-infected patients while observing universal precautions. Good infection barrier practices were adopted by 89.9% of dentists, and disposable cartridges for local anaesthetic agents and dental needles were not reused by 93.4% of the respondents. Autoclaving was the most widely used sterilization method (73.2%), but less than half of the respondents knew how to ascertain whether sterilization was effective.
Conclusion: This study revealed that efforts by Nigerian dentists to prevent HIV transmission are presently less than optimal. Therefore, there is a need for sensitisation and motivation through seminars, workshops and lectures.
HIV, infection transmission, Nigeria, dentists practice patterns, prevention and control, dental sciences