Marking World Aids Day, 1 December, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has confirmed HIV self-test devices will become available through community pharmacies.
AIDS response organisations have described availability of the self-test devices as a critically important additional tool to help people know their HIV status.
The move to offer HIV self-test devices through community pharmacies is consistent with the National HIV Strategy 2018-2022. This Strategy includes a priority to “improve the frequency, regularity and targeting of access to testing for priority populations and to decrease the rate of late diagnoses”.
Recent data shows a significant decline in HIV testing as a result of COVID-19 disruptions.
Helping reverse this trend, the availability of HIV self-test devices from community pharmacies will not only benefit at-risk people in major cities but also increase accessibility for people in regional and rural communities with less access to health care services. The rollout through pharmacies will progress over coming months as they respond to demand.
Pharmacists are highly trained and experienced in conversing with patients about their health matters. Community pharmacists already supply a range of self-testing devices such as blood glucose and blood pressure monitors as well as oximeters and pregnancy tests.
Ability to undertake an HIV test, similar in process to tests for diabetes, in the privacy of home will increase testing rates and help deliver better health outcomes.
Pharmacy Guild of Australia National President, Trent Twomey, says the move is consistent with a broader shift in focus of health care from treatment to preventative action.
“The more we can do to prevent health concerns arising in the first place, the better the outcomes for all – from the patient to the wider health care system,” Mr Twomey says.
“The best possible outcome nationally is to halt the transmission of HIV. Once again, community pharmacists are working to deliver good health outcomes, for the long term,” he says.