A pilot project to train pharmacists and retail store clinic staff at 24 rural and urban sites to deliver confidential rapid HIV testing was announced today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal of the initiative is to extend HIV testing and counseling into the standard everyday services offered by pharmacies and retail clinics.
“We know that getting people tested, diagnosed and linked to care are critical steps in reducing new HIV infections,” Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS said in a statement. “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.
CDC estimates that 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States, yet nearly 1 in 5 remains unaware of the infection.
“Our goal is to make HIV testing as routine as a blood pressure check,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “This initiative is one example of how we can make testing routine and help identify the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are unaware that they are infected.”