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Free Tests for HIV Offered

Free HIV testing will soon be offered in major U.S drug stores.

June 27, 2012- Walgreens and other pharmacies in the U.S. are offering quick and easy HIV tests for free in a small number of stores under a pilot program for a two-year period. The idea is to make the diagnosing of the virus that produces AIDS more accessible and convenient to people in the United States.

The program was announced Tuesday by the CDC – Centers for Disease Control – and will use information taken from the testing to help develop a model nationwide for nurse practitioners and pharmacists to detect the virus. The director of the HIV/AIDS Prevention division of the CDC, Dr. Jonathan Mermin said the goal was to have tests for HIV to be as routine as testing for blood pressure.

The CDC estimated that over 1.1 million Americans have the virus, but close to 20% do not know they are even infected. One of the biggest challenges in the diagnosis of HIV is that people can live for many years with the infection, without it developing any symptoms.

Being diagnosed late and development to AIDs, often times means many have transmitted the infection to other people and missed a critical window to receive medical treatment that could have been life extending.

The sites for the testing in Walgreens include one in Chicago, one in Washington D.C. and one clinic in Lithonia, Georgia. The CDC has made partnerships with four more pharmacies and will choose 17 additional sites before the end of summer.

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