As i write this, the 23rd International AIDS Conference is wrapping up. Like many medical conferences held this year, AIDS 2020, one of the largest medical conferences of its type, moved to a virtual format because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

One of the most impactful reports out of that meeting, which was from UNAIDS, noted that COVID-19 could derail some critical HIV targets, including increased testing and better access to treatment for years to come.1 The UNAIDS report underscored another important finding from the meeting, which was that US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for at least 1-time HIV testing has not been fully implemented by US caregivers.2 The CDC recommends that people aged 13 to 64 years be tested for HIV as part of their routine health care. However, these recommendations for overall people—not those indicated as at greater HIV risk—have not been fully implemented, researchers noted.

These data, taken together with the host of new data from various pharmaceutical manufacturers on HIV medications for both preexposure prophylaxis and treatment, should be carefully considered by pharmacists who are in a good position to counsel patients on the importance of testing, adhering to recommended medication regimens, and helping connect patients with ways to pay for their medications. As noted in an article in the From PT.com section in this issue, helping patients find ways to pay for the medications can be critical to influencing adherence to recommended therapeutic regimens.

As patients return to their routines of returning to pharmacies and the inevitable discussions about COVID-19 begin, it may be a good time to discuss the range of tests that the CDC recommends.

For patients who have been diagnosed with illnesses, such as HIV or the focus of this issue, diabetes, it may also provide a good opportunity to counsel about the importance of adhering to medication routines.

Although the pandemic has been difficult on all of us, it has focused the attention of the public on the importance of health care and self-care. When patients are in that mindset, pharmacists should take advantage and initiate those conversations.

REFERENCES
  1. Joint United Nations Program-me on HIV and AIDS. Seizing the moment. Published July 6, 2020. Accessed July 8, 2020. https://aids2020.unaids.org/report/
  2. Guzman K. Survey: Two-thirds of US adults have not received HIV testing. Contagion®. Published online and accessed July 7, 2020. https://www.contagionlive.com/news/survey-two-thirds-us-adults-havenot-received-hiv-testing