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UMSOD Supports HIV Outreach Day

Written by Adam Zewe

A University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) team of dental students, hygiene students and faculty members provided oral cancer screenings for underserved Baltimore City residents during the fifth annual City Uprising HIV Outreach Day on June 25.

The UMSOD team conducted oral cancer screenings for 63 patients at Payne Memorial African Methodist Church, one of four local churches that participated in the event. In addition, students and faculty members from the School of Medicine, School of Nursing and School of Law provided many other services for city residents, including free HIV screenings, blood pressure screenings and health and nutrition counseling. City Uprising HIV Outreach Day aims to encourage residents to get tested for HIV.

Mike Kerins, DDS '14, was part of the team that provided oral cancer screenings. He enjoyed the opportunity to educate underprivileged city residents about the importance of dental care. Kerins, who plans to be a clerk in the Special Patient Clinic next year, feels a strong desire to help HIV positive patients receive the dental treatment they need.

During the event, Rebecca Boss, RDH '14, examined many patients who suffered from dental caries and decayed teeth. She reassured patients and encouraged them to seek additional treatment to improve their oral health. "A lot of people are afraid of the dentist. It's important to help them realize that dentistry can actually be interesting and that it isn't so scary," remarks Boss.

City Uprising HIV Outreach Day was a great way to help city residents receive vital health care while highlighting the importance of HIV testing, says Associate Professor Valli Meeks, DDS, MS, RDH. The School of Dentistry recently took a leadership role in encouraging patients to get tested for HIV. Since May 6, UMSOD has offered free HIV tests to patients in the Urgent Care Clinic and at screening appointments.

UMSOD has partnered with the School of Medicine's Institute of Human Virology and Jacques Initiative to offer HIV tests. Patients who test positive are immediately connected to local health care providers. "Knowledge is prevention. If we can help people know their HIV status and get them into care quickly, we can help prevent the spread of HIV," Dr. Meeks states.

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