Purpose: The intention of the study was to evaluate whether Sub-Saharan schoolteachers may play a key role in oral health promotion of primary schoolchildren, particularly in terms of prevention of HIV/AIDS-related oral health problems.
Keywords: HIV/AIDS oral lesions, oral disease prevention, schoolteachers, public health
Materials and Methods: The study examined the level of knowledge about oral disease and the prevention of HIV/AIDS oral lesions amongst schoolteachers of Tanzania and Burkina Faso, identified their sources of information, and evaluated their ability for HIV/AIDS intervention. A multi-centre cross-sectional study was implemented in the two Sub-Saharan African countries. Participants comprised primary school teachers selected by stratified cluster sampling: 261 teachers from Tanzania and 313 teachers from Burkina Faso. All participants completed a structured questionnaire prepared for self-administration. The questions were designed from a standardised questionnaire developed by the World Health Organization.
Results: Most teachers knew about the principal causes of the major oral diseases and the means of disease prevention. Nearly all teachers (95.6%) were aware of HIV/AIDS and they knew (92.3%) a virus was the direct cause of AIDS. Teachers were well informed of the general symptoms of HIV/AIDS, although oral symptoms were mentioned less often. In all, 17.6% of schoolteachers reported that children suffering from HIV/AIDS were found in their classes and 10.3% of teachers were conscious of students receiving anti-retroviral therapy (ART). Knowledge about the disease seemed to reflect mass media as a source, while teacher colleagues and health personnel played a somewhat lesser role in communication. In total, 83.2% emphasised that they should teach children about HIV/AIDS and the mouth. Schoolteachers from Tanzania (70.5%) were more often engaged in classroom-based oral health education than were the Burkinabe teachers (53.9%).
Conclusion: The study confirms that schoolteachers may be a relevant source in the fight against HIV/AIDS among children. However, they would benefit from interaction with health personnel.