Focus on HIV/AIDS and oral health at the 8th World Workshop in Bali, 13-15 September 2019

FFDI network event_ 8th World Workshop on Oral Health and Disease in AIDS

The 8th World Workshop on Oral Health and Disease in AIDS (WW8) will be held in Bali, Indonesia, from 13 to 15 September 2019.

The WW8 offers clinicians and scientists working in the fields of HIV and oral health the opportunity to meet like-minded experts, exchange ideas and information, and strengthen and expand academic collaboration. The first World Workshop was held in 1988; the 7th World Workshop was held in Hyderabad, India, in 2014.

The WW8 is open to the entire research community, clinicians, patient partners, and others with an interest in improving the health of people living with HIV. Early-bird registration ends on 20 June.

Under the theme of “Improving health and well-being”, this year’s conference will focus on the economic, demographic, and social impacts of HIV/AIDS in developing countries, HIV-related stigma and discrimination in oral care settings, and the advances in research and innovation in HIV/AIDS. Workshop organizers say that understanding these issues is critical in order to address the global HIV epidemic and reduce health disparities, build oral health professionals’ knowledge on these topics, and improve equity in health and well-being among people living with HIV.

In the lead up to the 8th World Workshop, FDI sat down with Dr David Croser, member of the workshop’s international organizing committee and a London-based general dental practitioner.

Dr David Croser

Member, WW8 International Organizing Committee

What are your expectations for the 8th World Workshop on Oral Health and Disease in AIDS?

The WW8 has speakers and contributions from five continents. It presents a perfect opportunity for the international dental community to support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Declaration (2016): “To end the AIDS epidemic by 2030”. The published proceedings of the meeting will provide a tangible record of that expectation.

Over the last 30 years the Workshops have evolved to address some of the wider issues surrounding the health of patients exposed to HIV. This year’s programme will focus on social aspects, e.g. stigma, challenges faced by women living with HIV in the developing world, much more than previous Workshops.

"HIV testing in the dental setting is a public health measure being introduced in some countries – WW8 provides an international forum to share experiences in order to optimize the future success of this initiative."

Much research has been done by dental colleagues since the start of the epidemic in the 1980s that can be applied to the clinical management and public health aspects of HIV/AIDS. WW8 will consider ways of working with HIV patients and the public to prioritize future HIV research projects.

What is unique about this year’s event?

The Workshop is held once every five years. Since the series began, the introduction of anti-retrovirals has now given patients a near-normal life expectancy. However, the clinical research that has been accumulated over the past 35 years has a valuable role in dealing with future emerging diseases. The WW8 will create a consensus view of the way forward.

"It also provides a unique platform to review the body of work done in the dental setting about stigma and novel ways of encouraging patients to know their HIV status."

These are prevailing issues in Indonesia, which is hosting the event, as well as in many other parts of the world.

What is the link between HIV/AIDS and oral health? Why is this relationship important?

"The oral cavity is often the presenting site for HIV/AIDS, so dental professionals must be able to recognize the clinical signs."

The retrovirus that causes HIV/AIDS spreads at the expense of the host's immune system. A reduced immune system allows a variety of oral lesions to appear that are rarely seen in healthy patients. Some of these lesions are AIDS-defining conditions that, in the early days of the epidemic, were used as a provisional diagnosis when confirmatory testing might be delayed.

"The seven World Workshops to date have led to internationally recognized criteria for the classification of oral lesions related to HIV infection. This has enabled understanding of the mechanisms and the optimal treatment of those oral lesions."

Anti-retroviral drugs help the patient’s immune system to recover, and the oral lesions usually disappear. But that doesn’t mean that their significance should be forgotten. Emerging diseases could create new challenges to the human immune system.

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