Free dental treatment

Good dental health is an important, yet overlooked part of HIV health care. Oral problems may be the first indication of HIV disease and may serve as a good barometer of HIV progression. Many oral manifestations can put a strain on your immune system, so keeping your teeth healthy is important.

If you are diagnosed with HIV, you are entitled to compensation for infection-preventative dental treatment from you dentist.

The National Insurance Act § 5-6 states that: "National Insurance provides support to cover expenses for dental examination and treatment for illness." In December 2004, new provisions were added to this act and new directives issued, from which it appears that people living with HIV have the right to full compensation for "infection-preventative treatment."

In the following, I will attempt to answer three questions: first, what "infection-preventative treatment" is; second, what "full compensation" involves; and third, how one should proceed when one wishes to exercise one's rights under § 5-6.

"Infection-preventative" measures are those that are necesary to prevent infection. It is the dentist who must determine whether this condition is fulfilled, but there is nothing in the law to indicate that the condition should be narrowly interpreted. I have recently learned that several of our members' teeth have "crumbled" as a result of long-term use of medication. To have this damage repaired will obviously fall under the category of "infection-preventative" measures.

Also relevant is the question of what constitutes "treatment." What can cause confusion is the fact that the directives emphasize that support is not provided to "conservative dentistry." Later in the directives, however, it appears that "infection-preventative treatment" also includes conservative dentistry.

All in all, one must be able to say that everything that is necessary to prevent infection or to remove an infection that has already arisen should be covered.

It is important to point out that the decision of the social security office (trygdekontoret) to approve or possibly reject an application for coverage of dental expenses is an individual decision. It may, in other words, be appealed.

"Full compensation" means that the national insurance covers all expenses, but only according to rates set by the social security office itself. This means that if one goes to a dentist who charges higher rates than the state does, one must pay the difference oneself. It has now also been made clear that if teeth must be pulled in order to prevent infection, one is entitled to coverage of the cost of prosthetic treatment. If crowns or bridges are required, for example, this should be covered.

The procedure for securing compensation is now simplyfied. A specific form has to be filled out by your dentist. This form can be obtained from the social security office or downloaded from this website. Alternatively contact us.

The main rule is that the dentist must first fill out the form, and the form is then forwarded to the social health insurance office (Nav). You will receive your compensation after seven to ten days.

In closing, a general comment on dental visits. I have learned that several of our members have been denied appointments with dentists upon informing them of their HIV status. We recommend that you first make an appointment and only inform the dentist of your HIV status at the time of the visit. If you are turned away under such circumstances, you should complain to the county medical officer (fylkeslegen), or, if you wish, contact us.