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Community Pharmacies Are Effective Locations for Rapid HIV Testing
Date:8/6/2013

ections among African-Americans (8.7 per 100,000) is nearly eight-times greater than that of whites (11.5). Hispanics have the second-highest rate (29.3), which is three times that of whites.

Dr. Calderon and her Einstein-Jacobi colleagues Jason Leider, M.D., Ph.D., and Ethan Cowan, M.D., M.S., formed partnerships with five community-based pharmacies in the Bronx and Manhattan (Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen) in an effort to test hard-to-reach, high-risk individuals. Public Health Advocates (PHAs) were trained to approach people in the pharmacies and on the sidewalks outside to offer HIV testing. When an individual agreed, the PHA would administer the rapid HIV test, which needs only a swab of saliva and provides results in 20 minutes.

While waiting for the results, the PHAs asked the participants to fill out an HIV-risk factor and test satisfaction questionnaire, and then counseled them about HIV-risk reduction behavior based on their answers. If the HIV test result was positive, the PHA offered to escort the participant to the HIV clinic at Jacobi or a collaborating HIV clinic near the testing site, where they were seen immediately by an HIV specialist.  All participants were allowed to accept or decline the escort. On average, HIV-positive clients saw an HIV specialist less than an hour after being diagnosed.

During 294 testing days, 2,030 individuals agreed to HIV testing, six of whom tested positive. Five of the six agreed to accompany the PHA to a HIV clinic. Further testing revealed that their median CD4 count was 622 white blood cells/mL, indicating they were diagnosed at a relatively earlier stage of infection. (A CD4 count above 500 for someone with HI
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SOURCE Albert Einstein College of Medicine
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