183075 Pharmacy-based HIV testing and referral to non-prescription syringe customers

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 5:05 PM

Silvia Amesty, MD, MPH, MSEd , Center for Family and Community Medicine, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY
Katherine Standish, BA , Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, New York Academy of Medicine, New York, NY
Natalie Crawford, MPH , Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University, New York City, NY
Crystal M. Fuller, PhD , Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, New York Academy of Medicine, New York, NY
Background: Injection drug users (IDUs) face a high burden of HIV infection, compounded by inadequate health care access. Use of new syringes is an important way to decrease HIV transmission. Methods: We conducted a pilot study among thirteen pharmacies in New York City (NYC) registered to sell syringes without prescription. Pharmacists and technicians were trained in the delivery of social and medical referrals, syringe disposal containers, and harm reduction materials. Pharmacists, technicians, and syringe customers were surveyed. Results: Most pharmacists (100%) and technicians (93.75%) believed that selling non-prescription syringes helps decrease the spread of HIV. Among pharmacists, 75% reported willingness to provide HIV testing in pharmacies. Among syringe customers, 80% reported feeling comfortable receiving information from pharmacists; 65% believed that pharmacists care about their well-being. Discussion: Given this receptive environment to expanding pharmacy services, we propose to test the feasibility of providing HIV testing to syringe customers in pharmacies. Ten pharmacies in Harlem will be randomly selected and staff will be trained to refer syringe customers to local HIV testing sites; two additional pharmacies will offer on-site HIV testing and counseling. Among pharmacy staff, we will examine the impact of HIV testing referrals/on-site testing on customer base, daily business flow, and attitudes and perceptions of HIV testing services. Among syringe customers we will compare and contrast those who use the HIV testing referral/on-site testing to those who do not. Pharmacies may be an accessible health resource for HIV testing and other preventive services for hard to reach populations.

Learning Objectives:
1. To explore pharmacists' attitudes towards adopting a more active role in HIV prevention by offering HIV referral and testing services for intravenous drug users (IDUs) in pharmacies 2. To describe attitudes among IDUs regarding availability of HIV referral and testing services in pharmacies 3. To propose innovative strategies for HIV prevention by using existing public health programs (expanded syringe access programs-ESAP- in pharmacies)

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am part of the team conducting the study
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.