Pharmacists Bringing HIV Education, Testing and Care to Local Communities

October 16, 2014

PRESS RELEASE

WASHINGTON, DC (October 16, 2014) — The accessibility of pharmacies for HIV testing, care and adherence monitoring presents a unique opportunity for pharmacists to further progress in HIV prevention, education and care, concluded two research studies published in the September/October 2014 edition of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association (JAPhA

®

). The two research studies and a related editorial explore the HIV testing in community pharmacies and the impact of HIV-specialized pharmacies on medication adherence.

CDC estimates that more than 1.1 million people over age 13 are living with HIV infection, and almost 16 percent of those are currently unaware of their infection. Over the past decade, the number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable at about 50,000 per year. Unfortunately, for patients in some rural communities easy access to physicians, hospitals and community health centers prevents testing and treatment. However, more than 85% of Americans live within a 10 mile radius of a community pharmacy. The accessibility of local pharmacists is an untapped resource for the delivery of effective and confidential HIV education, testing and care services.

The

viewpoint article

, “Pharmacy and HIV testing: A good start…finally,” by JAPhA Editor-in-Chief, Andy Stergachis, BPharm, PhD, states, “Along with conducting tests in pharmacies, properly trained pharmacists can encourage people who test positive through a home-based kit to obtain a follow-up test along with confidential counseling and referral. Pharmacists can also help answer questions about HIV prevention, assist with referrals for confirmatory testing, and link patients who test positive with care and treatment.”

An analysis of the first

research study

, “HIV testing in community pharmacies and retail clinics: A model to expand access to screening for HIV infection,” by Paul J. Weidle; Shirley Lecher; Linda W. Botts; et al, states, “Access to HIV testing services typically requires that patients visit a health department, physician, or HIV testing site, which in some jurisdictions can require traveling long distances. Pharmacies and retail clinics offer a vast, largely untapped potential for the delivery of HIV testing in settings that are more accessible and, for some people, less stigmatizing than traditional testing sites. The results of this pilot project suggest that confidential HIV testing services can be administered by existing staff at community pharmacies and retail clinics and successfully integrated into a busy work environment with a modest amount of staff—patient interaction time. The success of this model also suggests that community pharmacies and retail clinics may potentially serve as future points of contact for reaching populations at risk for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or infectious diseases.”

An analysis of the second

research study

, “Impact of HIV-specialized pharmacies on adherence to medications for comorbid conditions,” by Janeen DuChane; Bobby Clark; John Hou; et al, states, “The availability of medications that effectively suppress HIV has resulted in patients with the virus living longer, increasing their susceptibility to comorbid conditions. Therefore, it is essential that patients with HIV maintain optimal medication adherence to delay the development of both HIV-related conditions and the progression of non-HIV-related comorbidities. The study findings presented here show that patients with HIV benefit from using specialized pharmacies that employ pharmacists who are specially trained in the treatment of HIV and provide such additional services as enhanced patient education, refill synchronization, medication review, and adherence assessments.”

In order for pharmacy-based HIV testing and care to be successful, these studies conclude that involvement and support of local health departments is important. The support of the local health community can also foster meaningful partnerships with other community and public health activities. When pharmacy-based HIV testing and care management programs are implemented thoughtfully, consistently and in accordance with recommended guidelines, prevention, medication adherence and ultimately, health outcomes, are improved.

The full-text articles are available for a limited time, free of charge on the Journal’s website at

japha.org

. In addition, a copy can be requested by email from

mspinnler@aphanet.org

.

About the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association

JAPhA is the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). JAPhA is a forum for original research, reviews, experiences and opinion articles that link science to contemporary pharmacy practice to improve patient care. It provides information on pharmaceutical care, drug therapy, diseases and other health issues, trends in pharmacy practice and therapeutics, informed opinion and original research. For more information, please visit

www.japha.org

.

About the American Pharmacists Association

The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 (c)(6) organization, representing more than 62,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. For more information, please visit

www.pharmacist.com

.