Getting tested for HIV may soon be as easy as going to the pharmacy to get a flu shot or blood pressure check. Pharmacies in 24 cities and rural communities will offer rapid HIV tests free of charge as part of a $1.2 million program. Testing is already available in Washington, D.C., Oakland, Calif., and an Indian health service clinic in Montana. The remaining 17 locations will soon be chosen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The test involves swabbing the inside of a person's mouth and preliminary results take about 20 minutes. Makers of the test say it is accurate 99 percent of the time. "If the test is positive for the AIDS virus, pharmacy employees will refer customers to a local health department or other health care providers for a lab blood test to confirm results, counseling and treatment," The Associated Press reports. "The workers are expected to deliver the news face-to-face and give customers privacy."
According to the CDC, there are about 1.1 million Americans who are infected with HIV, but up to 20 percent of them don't know they have it. Since 2006, the CDC has recommended all Americans ages 13 to 64 get tested at least once, but fewer than half of adults under the age of 65 have done so. (Read more)