Jun 27 2012
Comments

CDC Pilot Trains Pharmacists and Retail Clinic Staff to Provide Testing for HIV/AIDS

In observance of National HIV Testing Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced a pilot project to train pharmacists and retail store clinic staff at 24 rural and urban sites to deliver confidential rapid HIV testing. The goal of the pilot, according to CDC, is to extend HIV testing and counseling into the everyday services offered by pharmacies and retail clinics. The project is part of CDC’s efforts to support its 2006 testing recommendations, which call for all adults and adolescents to be tested for HIV at least once in their lives.

“We know that getting people tested, diagnosed and linked to care are critical steps in reducing new HIV infections,” said Kevin Fenton, MD, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “By bringing HIV testing into pharmacies, we believe we can reach more people by making testing more accessible…”

CDC estimates that 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States, yet nearly one in five remains unaware of the infection. In addition, one-third of those with HIV are diagnosed so late in the course of their infection that they develop AIDS within one year. That can delay treatment and increase potential transmission of the virus to partners.

Why community pharmacies? According to the CDC, millions of Americans shop at pharmacies every week and about 30 percent of Americans live within a 10-minute drive of a retail clinic. The pilot will last for two years, and the training will focus on rapid HIV testing and counseling and linking people diagnosed with the virus to treatment and support. Based on lessons learned, CDC plans to develop a comprehensive toolkit for that pharmacists and retail clinic staff.

Bonus Link: The Alliance for Health Reform recently held a briefing for Congressional staffers about retail clinics. Access the briefing webcast here.

More on HIV/AIDS testing:

  • Today, HHS revamped and relaunched AIDS.gov to make it more user-friendly and accessible on any kind of device, from cell phones to tablets.
  • Testing Makes Us Stronger encourages African-American gay and bisexual men to get tested for HIV.
  • Take Charge. Take the Test. Encourages African-American women to get tested for HIV.
  • HIV Screening. Standard Care. Gives primary care providers new tools to help ensure all patients are tested for HIV at least once in their life.
  • Prevention IS Care encourages providers who treat patients with HIV to screen them for risky transmission behaviors, and remind them about the importance of protecting themselves and others by reducing risky behaviors.
  • One Test. Two Lives. gives health care providers information and resources to encourage testing of pregnant women for HIV/AIDS.
  • To find a test location goes to www.hivtest.org, call 1-800-CDC-INFO or text your zip code to “KNOW IT” (566948).
  • AIDS.gov lists numerous resources to support National HIV Testing Day.

>>Weigh In: What other initiatives do you think might be good opportunities for collaboration between public health and retail clinics?

>>Follow the National HIV Testing Day conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #NHTD.

Tags: HIV