HIV/AIDS: the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of dentists in Nairobi, Kenya.
The purpose of this study was to assess dentists' knowledge of HIV/AIDS, as it affects them in their workplace, attitudes pertaining to universal precautions and treatment of patients with HIV/AIDS and their behaviour toward their patients. A descriptive cross-sectional survey was carried out. A 34-item questionnaire was delivered to a random sample of 145 dentists based in Nairobi, Kenya. The response rate was 72% (N = 105). Just over half the sample (53%) knew that the first AIDS patient in Kenya was reported in 1984. Ninety eight per cent knew that the main mode of transmission of HIV/AIDS in Kenya is heterosexual contact. All the respondents reported the use of gloves during clinical procedures and use of an autoclave for sterilisation of instruments was reported by more than 85%. Most dentists indicated a willingness to treat HIV/AIDS patients while those with dissenting views preferred that they be treated in dedicated clinics or academic teaching hospitals. Nearly half felt that the risk of HIV transmission in the clinic is high. The incongruity between perceived knowledge, reported practise and attitudes suggests that there is a need for continuing education courses to enable dentists to practice their profession with due care as regards patients with HIV/AIDS. In addition, courses on working with patients with HIV/AIDS should be offered so as to remove ignorance and fear. Results from this survey show that there is a fair level of knowledge as far as HIV/AIDS is concerned. The results also indicate that a greater compliance with universally accepted guidelines for infection control is needed, as it remains low for dentists working in the capital city of a country that records a rising number of new HIV/AIDS cases every day.