06/26/2012 11:17 am ET

HIV Testing To Be Available At Pharmacies And Retail Stores In CDC Initiative

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has unveiled a new two-year initiative to train pharmacists and clinic staff members at retail stores to administer rapid HIV testing, in efforts to make testing easily accessible and available on a widespread scale.

The CDC said that the pilot program, announced today, includes 24 different cities and communities. The Associated Press reported that when this $1.2 million pilot program is completed, the results from the initiative will be analyzed to figure out how to move forward.

“Our goal is to make HIV testing as routine as a blood pressure check," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, in a statement. "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."

Reuters reported that Walgreens is going to be participating in the pilot program, and will first offer the rapid testing at stores in Chicago and Washington D.C., as well as a clinic in Lithonia, in Georgia.

The CDC said that it hopes providing HIV testing in this way can help to alleviate some of the anxiety that comes with getting an HIV test, provide a more easily accessible manner of doing so, and reduce stigma around getting tested.

The Associated Press reported that the HIV test administered in this program wil be a swab test, which takes 20 minutes to get a result.

Currently, the CDC recommends that all adults and teens get tested at least once in his or her lifetime for HIV.

Right now, HIV testing is available at state and local health departments, community health clinics and hospitals. However, in some communities, HIV testing is also available at dentist offices and local pharmacies, according to David Forrest, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and Lisa Metsch, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and public health at the university.

For more FAQs about HIV testing, click here.