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 employees’ health.

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
  • Karposi’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.

Support for employees

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

  • Encourage your employees to keep up with their regular dental appointments and brush twice daily and flossing. Most HIV-related mouth issues are treatable, yet at least 58% of people living with HIV and AIDS don’t receive regular dental care.
  • Talk to your employees 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 your group’s plan
  • 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.

Learn more about World AIDS Day and HIV resources.