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Keywords:

  • HIV;
  • diagnosis;
  • testing

Over the last thirty years, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic has matured. In the United States, HIV has changed from an explosive outbreak to an endemic disease; currently, an estimated 1.1 million people are infected with HIV, including a substantial number who are unaware of their status. With recent findings demonstrating the high transmissibility of HIV early in infection, and the potential benefit of early initiation of treatment, it is essential to identify as many infected individuals as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded HIV testing to include any healthcare setting, including dental offices. Testing advances, including oral testing, have reduced the window period of HIV infection. Dental care represents a key, reliable, independent, and confidential link between the healthcare system and the general population that has been under-utilized in the effort to control the HIV epidemic. HIV testing is straightforward, and knowledge of the types of testing will afford dentists an important opportunity to help advance and preserve the health of their patients and to promote the public health of their community. Here, we review the basics of HIV testing and discuss new changes in the approach to HIV diagnostics.