Perception of HIV/AIDS among preclinical dental students


Objective. To determine the knowledge, attitude and willingness of preclinical dental students to treat HIV/AIDS patients in the future. Method. The sample comprised 150 students of both genders drawn from the third and fourth year dental students of the University of Benin, Benin City. One hundred and fifty questionnaires were self-administered, with 139 (92.6%) retrieval. The parameters measured were knowledge, status, immunization against hepatitis B virus, willingness to treat, knowledge of post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and its protocol in the of University of Benin Teaching hospital (UBTH). Results. Data analysis showed that 100 (71.9%) students rated their knowledge of HIV/AIDS as high and very high. Sixty-three (45.3%) students thought that HIV was a contagious disease while 46 (33.1%) felt HIV was more infectious than tuberculosis or any of the strains of hepatitis virus. Only 59 (42.4%) students knew their HIV status. One hundred and twenty seven (91.4%) students felt that professional oral health care will be beneficial to HIV/AIDS patients; while fifty-one students (36.7%) are not prepared to administer dental care to HIV/AIDS patients in future. Majority of respondents adjudged health workers to be more at risk than sex workers. Forty students comprising 28.8% of the study population had been immunized against Hepatitis B. Ninety- four (67.7%) students had no knowledge of PEP while 122 (87.8%) students did not know the PEP protocol in UBTH. Conclusion. Although a large number of these students claim to be knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS. It is obvious that a true understanding is lacking. Concerted effort should be made to change their perception by implementing a curriculum designed to enhance the knowledge of dental students; if we hope to save HIV/AIDS patients from the discrimination of future healthcare givers.