South Africa ranks among the three countries with the highest prevalence of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 29.5% of women attending antenatal clinics being infected. Necrotizing periodontal disease is a well recognized HIV-associated oral condition. The objective of this investigation was to determine a possible correlation between the extent, severity and treatment outcome of necrotizing periodontal disease in relation to a person’s HIV status and CD4+ T cell count. Data from 105 consecutive patients presenting with necrotizing periodontal disease at an academic oral health centre in South Africa were analysed. All patients were provided with an opportunity to undergo voluntary counseling and testing for HIV infection, were treated for necrotizing periodontal disease and followed over a period of nine months. The mean age of the cohort was 28 years old (range 12 - 52). Of 98 (93.3%) patients unaware of their HIV serostatus at the initial visit, 59 (56.2%) consented to testing. In total 45 (42.9%) were HIV-seropositive with a mean CD4+ T cell count of 222.7 cells/μl and 14 (13.3%) were HIV-seronegative, with a significantly higher mean CD4+ T cell count of 830 cells/μl (Fisher’s exact test, p < 0.001), while the status of 46 (43.8%) remained unknown. In 101 (96.2%) patients, ≥ 5 tooth sites were affected, and in 27 (26%) ≥ 4 mm of gingival tissue were affected. This study, which included HIV-seropositive, HIV-seronegative and persons of unknown HIV status, revealed no statistical evidence that HIV infection was associated with the extent, severity or relapse of necrotizing periodontal disease. No statistically significant association could be demonstrated between the extent, severity and recurrence of necrotizing periodontal disease and a CD4+ T cell count ≤ 200 cells/μl among HIV-seropositive patients.
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