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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Access to oral health care for people living with human immunodeficiency virus attending a community-based preventive program in British Columbia Feng, Iris


Objective: It is important that people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) receive routine oral health care due to their increased risk of oral complications. However, PLWHA have difficulty accessing oral health services for various reasons, including having to endure HIV-related stigma and discrimination. In 2011, the University of British Columbia (UBC) Dental Hygiene Degree Program (DHDP) implemented a preventive oral health program at the Positive Living Society of British Columbia (PSLBC), a non-profit organization supporting PLWHA. This study aims to assess the influence this type of service delivery has on access to oral health care for members of PLSBC. Methods: A retrospective chart review of 170 PLSBC members who utilized the program services was conducted with descriptive analysis. Sixty-nine patient satisfaction surveys were also reviewed. Personal interviews with 10 members and one focus group comprised of 12 staff and administrative personnel were conducted. Audio-recordings were transcribed verbatim and coded thematically using N-Vivo® 11 software. Emerging themes were identified using the interpretative phenomenology approach following Penchansky and Thomas’ theory of access. Results: Of the 170 members who utilized the program, the majority (85.9%) were males and most (72.8%) lived where the program was easily accessible and convenient. Eighty-six members were routinely and currently using the services. The program helped members utilize their financial resources to receive other types of dental services. As members are influenced by their past traumatic experiences, they appreciated services were delivered in a safe manner and in a stigma-free setting. Members valued the opportunity to educate future dental professionals to reduce HIV-related stigma. However, unmet dental needs could not be addressed in the program for some members and appear to be influenced by dimensions of access at referral clinics. Conclusion: This community-based preventive dental program had multiple positive influences on access to oral health care for members of PLSBC; however, the referral pathway appeared to need improvement. Findings highlight that there is a need for dental professionals to address the interrelated dimensions of access in order to engage PLWHA in oral health care due to the influence of socioeconomic status, HIV-related stigma, and histories of trauma.

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