On its 20th anniversary of providing dental care for HIV-positive people in Los Angeles County, AIDS Project Los Angeles will launch a new mobile dental clinic at a ceremony on Friday in Lancaster, Calif. APLA opened the Greene/LeBaron Dental Clinic in March 1985, which was the nation's first dental facility operated by a community-based organization and devoted entirely to HIV patients. During the past 20 years, APLA's clinic became the largest in the nation to provide dental services to HIV-positive people. APLA began planning in 2004 for the mobile clinic for underserved regions of Los Angeles County.
The mobile dental clinic, a van with two dental chairs, will be professionally staffed by three experienced dentists, a trilingual (English, Spanish, Tagalog) dental hygienist, and three dental assistants, two of whom are bilingual. The mobile clinic will provide services in Claremont, Lancaster, Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and Whittier. Funding for the mobile clinic is provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Office of AIDS Programs and Policy; the Ahmanson Foundation; and the S. Mark Taper Foundation.
"We are pleased to be able to expand a vital program that we have offered since the very beginning of L.A.'s epidemic," said APLA executive director Craig E. Thompson. "People living with HIV/AIDS have complicated oral health needs. We are grateful that we were able to assemble government support and generous Los Angeles foundation support to allow us to meet those needs in a professional, safe setting that can reach people in underserved areas."
The launch ceremony will take place from 11:30 A.M. to noon on March 25 at the Antelope Valley Hope Center, part of High Desert Health System, at 44900 N. 60th Street West, Lancaster, Calif.
APLA officials say that about one third of HIV-positive people have experienced oral problems that have arisen due to a weakened immune system. Dental care is ranked as the second-most-needed service for HIV-positive people in Los Angeles County, according to a health department assessment. More than 60% of the APLA dental services patients are people of color, and more than half have annual incomes under $10,000. More than 40% of APLA dental clients receive free services; other clients pay on a sliding scale or through dental insurance programs.