Diffusion of Rapid HIV Oral Testing Among Dental Professionals

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20th Annual Congress of the European Association of Dental Public Health, Istanbul, Turkey.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) remains a serious public health epidemic with more than 1.1 million people currently infected in the United States, and of those infected, approximately 16% are unaware they have HIV. In order to reduce barriers and destigmatize HIV testing, in 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended universal testing to be expanded in more health care settings. Rapid HIV oral testing offers quick and painless results to patients, making it an ideal test for dental settings. The purpose of this study was to investigate the diffusion of rapid HIV oral testing among U.S. dental professionals within their scope of practice and to compare diffusion among public health versus private practice dental professionals, as well as between dentists and dental hygienists, using the 5 elements of diffusion of innovations theory. An online survey was used, and 192 dental professionals participated in the study. Bivariate testing and binary logistic regression were conducted to analyze the survey data. According to the results of the study, dental providers working in public health settings had higher diffusion of rapid HIV oral testing than private practice providers ( U = 2252, z = -4.79, p < 0.000), and dental hygienists had higher levels of diffusion when compared with dentists (U = 3022, z = -3.72, p < 0.000). Work setting and profession were also the strongest predictors of high diffusion (odds ratio [OR] = 3.45, 95% CI [1.68, 7.08]; OR = 2.97, 95% CI [1.01, 8.71], respectively). The social change aspect of this information could positively impact HIV interventions, increase access to HIV testing, as well as possibly inspire other health professions to incorporate rapid HIV testing in feasible settings.

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