To address the need of an increasing number of people living with HIV (PLHIV) with oral and dental health concerns, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) Muntinlupa Chapter for a five-year partnership of providing dental care for PLHIVs who are enrolled in RITM.
To be offered for free, RITM eyes for the dental services to be in operation by the third quarter of 2017. A mobile dental van/clinic donated by the Department of Health (DOH) will be used for the free dental services.
According to Ico Rodulfo Johnson, president of The Project Red Ribbon – the HIV organization that partnered with RITM-ARG as a treatment hub – this development is a timely response to a consistent concern.
“The Project Red Ribbon has, for the longest time, been looking for dentists who are PLHIV-friendly. Some dentists in Metro Manila reject clients with HIV for basic dental services, including tooth extraction and cleaning. Because of stigma and discrimination, PLHIVs have been scared to go to dentists and disclose their status for fear of this rejection,” Johnson said. “Now, RITM is not only offering dental services directly for PLHIV, but this is also for free. This alleviates our problem of stigma and discrimination because, as the biggest HIV and AIDS treatment hub in the country, RITM dentists can set a good practice and show all hospitals and dental clinics that with universal precautions, there is nothing to fear in handling PLHIV health issues.”
RITM is currently organizing the training course on the basics of HIV and AIDS and infection control as a preparatory step for the PDA dentists who will be handling PLHIVs.