This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a two-year pilot program to offer free, rapid HIV testing in 24 rural and urban pharmacies in order to make testing and counseling more accessible for all Americans.
One location is the Walgreens in Foggy Bottom, which has been administering HIV tests since May, according to Reuters. The location has seen approximately five to ten people per day, and manager Bethany Buechenmeister noted that the men and women receiving the tests are mostly younger.
The pilot program sought out local pharmacies since approximately 30 percent of the US population lives within a ten-minute drive of one, and it may attract those who fear stigma from visiting an HIV clinic. The CDC plans to provide training for all pharmacy staff to administer the test and then provide counseling, if results are positive.
The test involves taking an oral swab from the gum or cheek. Results are available within 20 minutes.
Approximately 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States, according to the CDC—and one in five people doesn’t realize he or she is infected. At 2.7 percent, the District has the highest HIV infection rate in the country. This number has dropped in recent years, but it still remains well above the 1 percent epidemic threshold established by the World Health Organization.
Today is National HIV Testing Day. In addition to Walgreens in Foggy Bottom, the DC Department of Health has provided a list of clinics and centers where you can take a test and learn more about HIV.