Since 2015, the University of Washington (UW) DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health has developed a partnership with UW Global Health, University of Nairobi and Kenyatta National Hospital in Kenya to set up the Children’s Healthy Oral Management Project (CHOMP). The CHOMP project investigates the connection between oral health and HIV. By developing research, training, and implementing pediatric oral health and HIV agenda, CHOMP sets an example for working towards improving oral health care for children with HIV. These partnerships not only advance oral health research, they also strengthen institutional collaborations which pave the way for future opportunities.
As a result of this collaboration, CHOMP developed a project focusing on the oral manifestations of HIV infection within current clinical trial pediatric cohort as perceived by parents and caregivers. Oral lesions are often among the earliest clinical signs of HIV infection, highlighting an important opportunity for improved oral care for HIV-infected children. The routine clinical care schedule for HIV-infected children may provide an opportunity to engage parents in more prompt diagnosis of oral morbidities and improve access to appropriate treatment. Training HIV care providers, or caregivers in the identification and management of oral comorbidities may improve referrals and early treatment.
Currently, we obtained a Sunstar (School of Dentistry) and CFAR (UW Center for AIDS Research) award that allows us to conduct examinations and oral health assessments as well as analyzing the association between salivary AMP and serum vitamin D levels. This pilot study data will inform the design of a randomized clinical trial of vitamin D supplementation in HIV-infected children and adolescents in Kenya.
These collaborations will be enhanced by creating research training opportunities in Kenya. With this is mind, we have applied for a 2020 D71 Planning Grant with the NIH Fogarty Center which will provide the basis for developing a training program with the ultimate goal of creating sustainable institutional capacity in research and training for oral health and HIV/AIDS.