More than a million people in the United States live with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the mouth is one of the first areas of the body that can be affected by an HIV infection. In honor of World AIDS Day on December 1, here are some tips for supporting your group clients and their employees.

Oral manifestations of HIV

As many as 80% of people infected with HIV experience oral manifestations. People with HIV may experience the following dental health-related issues, according to the American Dental Association (ADA):

  • Dry mouth
  • Thrush
  • White lesions on the tongue
  • Red band gingivitis
  • Ulcerative periodontitis
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma
  • Oral herpes outbreaks
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Canker sores
  • Susceptibility to infections and tooth loss

It’s important to note that symptoms alone are not a diagnosis and that most HIV-related mouth issues are treatable. At least 58% of people living with HIV and AIDS don’t receive regular dental care. Encourage your enrollees to book regular dentist appointments, brush twice daily and floss. Not only will these preventive measures help protect their oral care, it could help identify an issue while there’s still time to treat it.

Additional support for clients

Thanks to advances in science and technology, HIV is far from people living with HIV have a better outlook than ever, but proper care and maintenance is still critical.

  • Share critical information. The CDC offers a wealth of information including shareable infographics, presentation slides, videos and more, in addition to hotline and referral services. About 13% of people living with HIV in the U.S. don’t know they have it. The CDC offers a search tool for free testing throughout the country.
  • Share dental resources with your clients. Delta Dental offers monthly wellness campaigns for benefits administrators that include informative articles, emails, flyers and more, including content for World AIDS Day.
  • Talk to your clients about SmileWay Wellness Benefits. If a person who’s HIV positive has an eligible Delta Dental PPO™ plan and opts in, he or she may be eligible for added benefits, including 100% coverage for one scaling and root planing procedure per quadrant and 100% coverage for four of the following in any combination: prophylaxis, periodontal maintenance or scaling in the presence of moderate or severe gingival inflammation. If your groups don’t offer this benefit, consider adding it to their plans.

Learn more about World AIDS Day and HIV resources.