July 25, 2018

School of Dentistry Gets US$300,000 to Fund HIV/AIDS Training

Genesis Gonzalez, Loma Linda University Health, and Adventist Review

Loma Linda University School of Dentistry was awarded US$298,848 from the U.S. government’s Health Resources and Services Administration. This marks the sixteenth year that Loma Linda’s dentistry program has received a grant from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part F Funds for community-based HIV/AIDS training for dentistry, international dentistry, and dental hygiene students.

“We’re extremely proud of the funding we have received the past 16 years,” said Eun-Hwi Euni Cho, director of educational assessment at the School of Dentistry. “It’s important that we educate our students to look beyond just a patient’s mouth, to treat the whole person, and this grant provides another training opportunity to do that with our medically compromised patients.”

According to Cho, who is also the program director of the grant, 20 percent of HIV-positive patients are not aware that they have the infection. Up to 50,000 new infections occur every year in the U.S. The federal funding supports clinical training, oral health services for patients with unmet needs, and the development of innovative models in dental care for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Students are required to participate in eight hours of training during the course of two days. Their studies include take-home case studies, mini-lectures, classroom role play, and live patient interviews.

More than 2,000 dental, dental hygiene, and International Dentist Program students at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry have received the training to treat community patients who are HIV positive.

“The Loma Linda University School of Dentistry is a world-class learning institution, which is why they have been selected to receive federal funding through the community-based dental program for 16 consecutive years,” said U.S. Representative Pete Aguilar of California’s 31st Congressional District. “I’m glad that this funding … will give our dental students experience working with patients who live with HIV/AIDS, while also providing a specialized treatment option for members of our community who deal with these tragic diseases.”

Loma Linda University is a Seventh-day Adventist school in Loma Linda, California, United States, with facilities across several counties in southern California. According to Cho, patients travel from the Los Angeles, Orange County, and Palm Springs areas for treatment. Many of the patients also willingly allow Loma Linda University School of Dentistry students to treat them in the clinic and work with them in the classroom.

Student feedback throughout the years has shown that their knowledge, skills, and attitudes have improved when it comes to helping patients, Cho points out. “It has helped to reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS.”