By-Dr. ANUBHAV NARESH, 28 Sep :AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), which is known to be a life threatening disease caused by HIV, was first recognized way back in the United States in July 1981 and in August 1981, it was reported in intravenous drug users and since then, there has been no looking back in fighting the deadly disease. Campaigns and projects, aimed at controlling and stopping its spread, have been going on for the past twenty years around the world. In India too, National AIDS Control Organisation is making efforts for the same.
Crores of rupees are being given to AIDS Control Societies and NGO’s for the purpose whose target groups are those people living below the poverty line as it is believed that to have sex is the only form of entertainment available to them! But the question that haunts is that is it a disease confined to slum people or something that can spread to urbanites as well? And the obvious answer is ‘Yes” because viruses do not know barriers.
Health camps, counseling sessions, advocacy meetings – everything is happening except for dental check-ups for visualizing the symptoms of AIDS. When it has been known since long that AIDS has oral manifestations, then why are dentists not being involved in the crusade against AIDS?
Following are the various diseases and their characteristics that may be visualized in a suspected patient of AIDS within the oral cavity –
1. Oral Hairy Leukoplakia – characteristically found on the lateral borders of the tongue. Often, characteristic vertical striations imparting a corrugated appearance are present.
2. Oral Candidiasis – is the most common lesion in HIV diseases and has been found in approximately 90% of AIDS patients.
3. Bacillary (Epitheliod) Angiomatosis – is an infective vascular proliferative disease. The condition is more prevalent in HIV positive individuals with low CD4 levels.
4. Oral Hyper-pigmentation – an increased incidence has been described in HIV-infected individuals. Oral pigmented areas often appear as spots or striations on the buccal mucosa, palate, gingiva or tongue.
5. Atypical ulcers and delayed healing – HIV-infected patients have a higher incidence of recurrent herpetic lesions and apthous stomatitis. Approximately 10% of HIV-positive patients have herpes infection and multiple episodes are common.
6. Adverse drug effects – a number of adverse drug effects have been reported in HIV-positive patients and the dentist may be the first to recognize an oral drug reaction.
7. Linear Gingival Erythema – a persistent, linear, easily bleeding, erythematous gingivitis has been described in some HIV-positive patients.
Though, in addition to the above mentioned, there might be many more related states.
Another fact that needs to be advocated is that even deep kissing can lead to transmission of AIDS virus in certain cases. Let us not argue upon the possibility of the virus being present in the saliva, but, what about the possibility of transmission in cases having bleeding due to periodontitis and gingivitis?
I believe that the need of the hour is not to spread awareness about the limited knowledge that we have about AIDS but to have a deep study about what is already known and documented and then to enforce measures to contain it and research to find its treatment.
Panchkula – 134109
(*The writer is a dental surgeon by profession)