HIV-related stigma in the dental setting: a qualitative study

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Abstract

Purpose:

To explore the experiences and expectations of HIV-related stigma in dental settings.

Methods:

This was a cross-sectional study of 60 HIV+ adult volunteers. We conducted audio-recorded interviews; responses to four open-ended questions were analyzed qualitatively for theme and content.

Results:

Twenty-seven participants (45%) reported ever having anticipated being judged, stigmatized or treated with disrespect in a dental setting due to HIV status. Thematic response categories included concerns about: (i) receiving humane and respectful treatment, (ii) being judged or stereotyped and (iii) giving HIV to the dentist. Regarding hesitancy to visit the dentist, subjects equally endorsed fear of the dentist (35%) and concerns about confidentiality and receiving humane treatment (35%).

Conclusion:

HIV+ individuals encounter many fears and concerns related to dental care; fear of the dentist and concerns about confidentiality and receiving humane treatment appear to be central issues. Dental providers should be aware of and better manage these issues.

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