Twenty-four pharmacies across the US are to offer a rapid HIV test in a bid to combat infection rates in the US. The trial is targeted at rural communities.
As reported by the Atlantic, the pioneering of rapid HIV tests has been initiated by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The objective of the study is to extend HIV testing and counseling into the standard everyday services offered by pharmacies and retail clinics.
The pilot centers will be rural pharmacies located in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Lithonia, with the drug store chain Walgreen Co. running the majority of the test sites. The reason for using these locations is to target areas where it is harder for US government agencies to communicate as effectively will local communities and due to the convenience and easy accessibility of the pharmacies themselves.
The rapid HIV test is carried out by the pharmacist and uses a cheek swab. The results are ready within 20 minutes
Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of US Center for Disease Control's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, is quoted as saying "We know that getting people tested, diagnosed and linked to care are critical steps in reducing new HIV infections. By bringing HIV testing into pharmacies, we believe we can reach more people by making testing more accessible and also reduce the stigma associated with HIV."
According to Reuters, the CDC estimates that 1.1 million Americans have HIV, but nearly 20 percent of them don't know they are infected.
The Daily Mail notes that the cost of the trial is estimated at $1.2 million.