UR Medicine’s Eastman Institute for Oral Health has received a grant from New York State to use a rapid screening test for HIV in three of its clinics, based on the success of its smaller pilot program in 2013.
Throughout New York, which has the highest rate of HIV than any other state in the U.S., a third of HIV positive people learn their status only after reaching advanced stages of infection. While state law requires health professionals to offer voluntary HIV tests to patients age 13 to 64, a significant portion of the population do not visit a primary care physician or dentist and rely on a hospital emergency room for health care when an issue arises.
The pilot program conducted at Eastman Dental’s urgent dental care clinic showed that rapid HIV testing in the dental environment is practical and effective. During that study, Eastman Dental tested 655 patients and one patient was reactive. The patient was later confirmed HIV positive and successfully linked to medical care at the SMH Infectious Disease clinic in a timely manner.
With the patient’s consent, a trained Eastman provider swabs the inside of the patient’s mouth between the lip and the teeth, and places the swab in a vial filled with solution. The results take about 20 minutes, and if it shows as a preliminary positive, a confirmatory blood test must be done by the Infectious Disease clinic at Strong Memorial Hospital within 10 days.
The current grant will include screening Eastman Dental patients at its clinics on Main Street in the Sibley building, Campbell Street next to School 17, and urgent care patients at Elmwood Ave. near Strong Memorial Hospital.
“Our patients in these three clinics represent a diverse underserved population from nine area counties,” said YanFang Ren, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.P.H., director of EIOH’s urgent care clinic, who is leading the project. “The goal is to test 4,000 patients over the next 15 months.”
There is no cost to the patient for the rapid screen test.