Walgreens To Offer HIV Test In CDC Pilot Program
A new program by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make HIV tests available at local drugstores. The $1.2 million program will offer free rapid HIV tests at Walgreens stores around the country.
"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," CDC's Dr. Kevin Fenton said in a statement.
The test uses a swab to take cells from inside the mouth and takes approximately 20 minutes to get a preliminary result. If the test is positive, patients are referred to a doctor to confirm the results.
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"Our goal is to make HIV testing as routine as a blood pressure check," Dr. Jonathan Mermin., director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, told MSNBC. "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."
HIV causes a failure of the immune system. Some people develop flulike symptoms within a few weeks of being infected, but most infected people show no symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 1 million Americans live with HIV, and about 25 percent of seropositive people are unaware of their HIV status, according to the CDC.
No cure for HIV is known, but treatments include drug cocktails that inhibit formation of new HIV particles. If treatment begins early, life expectancy is 32 years, according to a 2006 study published in Med Care. Life expectancy shrinks as treatment is delayed.
Risk factors for HIV include having sex with multiple partners, having sex without a condom, and having sex with men who have sex with men, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases.
The test will roll out in Chicago and Washington D.C. initially and then expand to 15 other cities. When the project ends next summer, the CDC will analyze what worked and what did not before deciding on whether to roll the tests out nationwide.
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