University of Alberta to study effectiveness of HIV testing in pharmacies

Researchers say 21% of Canadians living with HIV don’t know they have it.

A new University of Alberta study aims to find out whether offering HIV testing in a pharmacy might encourage more people to get checked for infection.

Free confidential tests are now being offered at the Community Members Pharmacy (10611 101 St.) in Edmonton and a Shoppers Drug Mart in Fort McMurray (8600 Franklin Ave.).

Patients are taken to a private counselling room for a simple blood test that provides immediate results. Those who test positive will be signed up for further blood work to confirm the diagnosis.

HIV testing is mainly handled through doctors’ offices, clinics and hospitals, but health officials have been looking for alternate ways to get more people tested. The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates 21 per cent of the infected population are unaware of their HIV-positive status.

Besides discovering if the pharmacy setting might spur more tests, the study “will also tell us the type of person we will get from the study — those at high risk of getting infected, those who haven’t been tested for a while or those who are unaware they are at risk of infection,” said Christine Hughes, vice dean of the U of A’s faculty of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences.

The study is scheduled for six months, and will include testing in Newfoundland conducted by researchers at Memorial University.

Edmonton-area residents seeking a test are asked to make an appointment with the pharmacy during daylight hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Source: Edmonton Sun