The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) conducted its first dental health clinic for HIV patients last August 16 inside the dental health bus donated by the Department of Health. Dentists from the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) gave free dental check-up and oral prophylaxis to the patients.
“Since this is the first run of the dental clinic, we limited to see a few patients only. We have to see how the process of the dental clinic works, and check if there are any areas that need improvement,” explained RITM HIV/AIDS Core Team (HACT) Assistant Chair Dr. Jemelyn Garcia on why the registration for the dental services was controlled.
Dr. Garcia mentioned that once the dental clinic is in full operation, more patients will be accommodated and other services such as restoration, filling, and tooth extraction will be provided.
One of the patients expressed how thankful he was that RITM is now providing dental services for HIV patients. “First time ko magpacheck-up sa dentista since naging positive ako (This is the first time I went to the dentist since I became HIV positive),” he said.
He also added, “natatakot ako magpatingin sa labas, kasi hindi kami tanggap eh. Pag nalaman, pandidirihan ka. May diskriminasyon. Mas kumportable ako na dito na lang ako sa RITM (I am afraid of getting checked outside, because we are not accepted. People feel disgusted around us. There is discrimination. I feel more comfortable to have my dental check up here in RITM).”
According to PDA Muntinlupa Chapter President Dr. Victor Victoria, discussions are still ongoing between PDA and RITM HACT about the working schedule of the volunteer dentists. The dental clinic is most likely to operate twice a month.
“This is a new and exciting experience for us. It is the first time we have handled patients with HIV. This project will really go a long way in helping patients with HIV infection address their dental concerns,” ended Dr. Victoria.
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by Allenor Enciso, Communication and Engagement Office [RITM Web Team]