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Scientists from the University of Florida College of Medicine will be conducting a study to learn whether or not the high prevalence of periodontal disease among HIV patients is caused by the virus or is simply a coincidence, according to a recent article published in the Suncoast News.
The newspaper reported that two-thirds of the HIV-positive population also suffer from gum disease.
Researchers told the newspaper they believe that the virus alters the bacteria that exist in an individual's mouth. Since some of the 100 types of microorganisms found there have a protective effect against outside pathogens, changes in their structure may make a person more susceptible to gum infection, the investigators explained.
"We're interested in getting a definitive answer on whether there are differences in the bacteria associated with periodontitis in patients with HIV and in patients without HIV," lead researcher Clay Walker told Suncoast.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV. The organization recommends that these individuals visit their dentist more frequently than the typical recommendation of two times per year to ensure that their oral health is in good condition.
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