Dentists Pioneer Way for HIV/AIDS Patients
Currently, the AIDS 2012, the international HIV/AIDS conference, is running July 22 through 27 in Washington, DC.
With some exceptions, dentists were among the first providers to recognize some of the physical manifestations of HIV/AIDS and come to the forefront of care for these patients.
Take for example, Dr. David Reznik, D.D.S., president of HIVDent, a nationally recognized Internet resource for people with HIV/AIDS. Dr. Reznick also serves as the Dental Director of the Southeast AIDS Education and Training Center and Director of the Oral Health Center at Infectious Disease Program of Grady Health Systems in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Reznick was inspired to create HIVDent after hearing from a patient that no one would see him because of his AIDS diagnosis. Dr. Reznick immediately scheduled an appointment for him. After hearing this patient’s story, and seeing the discrimination in the dental field towards people with HIV/AIDS, Dr. Reznick was inspired to expand dental care to these patients.
Sandy Thurman, President Bill Clinton’s former AIDS czar, asked Dr. Resnik to take patients with HIV/AIDS on a sliding scale, making available dental services for this population at a lower cost. Dr. Reznick took on this initiative and provided care free of charge, working around the clock to ensure that the population was cared for.
In 1993, Dr. Reznick opened Ponce De Leon Center, the largest, most comprehensive dental clinic in Atlanta for advanced HIV/AIDS, which continues to provide care today. Dr. Reznick’s work continues today. He is constantly asking: How can I communicate oral health messages to people with so much else going on in their life? How do I gain trust?
Dr. Reznick and dentists like him brought this important issue to the forefront of the national discussion. They are now providing rapid HIV testing through saliva in dental practices to help ensure newly infected patients get care in a timely way and assure that they are not denied oral health care access.
As Dr. Reznick says, “Knowledge is power and allows us to increase understanding of those we serve. We can reach out, touch someone’s hand and make their world a little better.”