The Centers for Disease Control in partnership with Wallgreen’s drug stores announced HIV-testing day in an new public-private partnership
Today is HIV testing day! In the hope of making HIV testing more easily available, the Centers for Disease Control rolled out a new pilot program offering free HIV tests at two-dozen local drug stores across the country. If it’s a success, rapid response test will soon be coming to a Wallgreens near you.
The CDC has occasionally sent its own personnel to drug stores holding HIV prevention events, but this new initiative partners with Walgreens to train the stores’ own employees to administer the test, which consists of a swab inside the cheek. The test can give a preliminary result in about twenty minutes. Walgreens currently offers medical services like blood pressure checks, Flu and Shingles shots, so an HIV tests would just be another added service.
“By bringing HIV testing into pharmacies, we believe we can reach more people by making testing more accessible and reduce the stigma associated with HIV,” Said Dr. Kevin Fenton, head of the CDC’s HIV prevention program.
The CDC estimates there are more than 200,000 Americans who are HIV positive but don’t know it, since symptoms may take as long as a decade to appear. They recommend everyone be tested at least once, not just those at high risk, like gay men with multiple partners and intervenes drug users. They hope making testing free and readily available will encourage people who have never had the test to take the advantage of the opportunity.
Each participating location will be given 200-300 test kits. After a year, the CDC and Walgreen’s will evaluate the results and make a decision about the future of a nationwide program. The CDC is hoping next year’s HIV testing day may mark a program to put free HIV testing in every Walgreens (and hopefully other drug stores) in the country. For now there are pilot programs operating at Walgreens in Washington DC, Georgia, Maryland, Oakland California, and the CDC will soon choose 17 more locations. The Indian Health Services in Billings, Montana is also participating.
Jean Ann Esselink is straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.