HEALTH

Walgreens offering free HIV testing

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Getting tested for HIV will soon be as simple as going to your local drug store.

(Photo: arichards63/flickr)

Walgreens has teamed up with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to bring free HIV testing to dozens of stores across the United States. Over the next two years, 24 Walgreens locations will offer confidential HIV testing.

D.C. resident Andrew Davidson said, "That's what they should be doing. I don't know why someone didn't think about this years ago."

A few locations have already begun offering testing.

Starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday, testing will be held at the store on Connecticut Avenue near the Van Ness Metro Station in Northwest Washington. The service will also be done between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

Wednesday is National HIV Testing Day. 

"The goal of having the project at a pharmacy or at a retail clinic is really because of the ease of accessibility and the closeness to people's homes," Paul Weidle with the CDC explained.

The partnership also hopes to help eliminate the stigma.

Sarah Freedman, the pharmacy manager at the Walgreens in Foggy Bottom, said, "When you come into a pharmacy to get the test, other people don't know if your getting your blood pressure checked, are you picking up medicine. Where as with an HIV bus, everyone knows exactly what you're doing there."

Despite testing advancements, more than 200,000 people nationwide don't know they're living with HIV.

Freedman added, "We need to find these people and get them into treatment as quickly as possible and this is a great way to do it."

The test uses an oral swab, dipped in solution. Patients can get results in less than 20 minutes.

But, pharmacists want you to know that though the test is quick and accurate, it's not necessarily conclusive. They recommend following up with a primary care physician for treatment or following up with a blood test further down the road.

Experts recommend getting tested every three to six months.

For information on HIV testing locations, visit http://hivtest.cdc.gov/Default.aspx.

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