The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be offering free rapid-HIV tests at selected pharmacies and in-store clinics in several cities across the country.
The $1.2 million trial program, which was announced by the CDC Tuesday, will provide participating drugstores with enough free tests to check 200 to 300 people. The drugstores are located in 24 cities, including a Walgreens in Chicago, the only participating store in the area. The pharmacy will offer a private testing room as well as on-site consultations by a pharmacist, as shared by Walgreens spokesman Robert Elfinger.
Free rapid-HIV tests are already available at seven locations, and the CDC will soon add 17 more locations to the list.
The goal of the program is to make HIV testing as a routine service available at drugstores, in the same way that blood-pressure checks, flu shots, and other health services are also available. Dr. Kevin Fenton, who oversees HIV prevention programs of the CDC, shared: “By bringing HIV testing into pharmacies, we believe we can reach more people . . . and reduce the stigma associated with HIV.”
An HIV test will entail the use of a swab inside the mouth, and it will take about 20 minutes to get a preliminary result. A customer who tests positive will be referred to a health department or other health-care providers for a laboratory blood test in order to confirm the result, as well as to get treatment and counseling. The manufacturer of the test says that it is correct 99 percent of the time.