Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.
Several drugstore chains are taking part in a pilot project with the CDC to provide HIV testing.
Walgreens and several other drug chains are taking part in a pilot project with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to provide HIV testing for the first time.
In June, the CDC began training pharmacists and retail store clinic staff at seven drugstores, and it will expand the program to 17 additional stores by the end of the summer.
"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," said Kevin Fenton, MD, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDs, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
"Our goal is to make HIV testing as routine as a blood-pressure check. 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," said Jonathan Mermin, MD, director of CDC's Division of HIV/ AIDs Prevention.
The seven clinics already approved are: Walgreens stores in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Ill.; a BioScrip Pharmacy in Washington, D.C.; a Take Care Clinic in Lithonia, Ga.; East Pines Pharmacy in Riverside, Md.; Mike's Pharmacy in Oakland, Calif.; and Indian Health Services Pharmacy in Billings, Mont.
The clinics and pharmacy sites were selected by a CDC advisory panel of pharmacists, nurses, and other health professionals, who identified communities with high HIV prevalence or significant unmet HIV testing needs.
Throughout the two-year project, CDC will provide training for retail clinic and pharmacy staff in 12 urban areas and 12 rural areas.
According to the CDC statement, "Training will focus on how to deliver rapid HIV testing and counseling, and link those who are diagnosed with the virus to care and treatment." On the basis of lessons learned, CDC will develop a comprehensive toolkit that pharmacists and retail clinic staff from around the country can use to implement HIV testing.