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Study: Community pharmacies are effective locations for rapid HIV testing

BY Antoinette Alexander

BRONX, N.Y. — Community-based pharmacies can be effective locations for offering rapid HIV testing, diagnosing HIV and quickly connecting those who test positive with medical care, according to researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

The study is in the August issue of the journal AIDS Patient Care and STDs.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the number of new HIV infections each year in the United States has remained stable for more than a decade at approximately 50,000. More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV. Nearly 1-out-of-5 in that group are unaware they are infected.

"There are many reasons why these numbers have not improved, but access to testing likely plays a large role," said Yvette Calderon, M.D., lead author for the study. "Access to healthcare remains particularly poor among low-income and minority populations — groups that shoulder the highest HIV burden. We have been looking for new ways to reach out and offer testing to individuals in these groups and bring them into care if they need it."

Calderon is professor of clinical emergency medicine and associate dean for the office of diversity enhancement at Einstein, and adult urgent care director at Jacobi Medical Center.

The Bronx, where Einstein and Jacobi are located, is ethnically diverse and has one of the highest HIV rates in the country, with some groups at much higher risk than others. According to researchers, nationally, the rate of new infections among African-Americans is nearly eight-times greater than that of whites. Hispanics have the second-highest rate, which is three times that of whites.

Calderon and her Einstein-Jacobi colleagues Jason Leider, M.D., Ph.D., and Ethan Cowan, M.D., M.S., formed partnerships with five community-based pharmacies in the Bronx and Manhattan (specifically Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen) in an effort to test hard-to-reach, high-risk individuals. Public health advocates were trained to approach people in the pharmacies and on the sidewalks outside to offer HIV testing. When an individual agreed, the PHA would administer the rapid HIV test, which needs only a swab of saliva and provides results in 20 minutes.

While waiting for the results, the PHAs asked the participants to fill out an HIV-risk factor and test satisfaction questionnaire, and then counseled them about HIV-risk reduction behavior based on their answers. If the HIV test result was positive, the PHA offered to escort the participant to the HIV clinic at Jacobi or a collaborating HIV clinic near the testing site, where an HIV specialist saw them immediately. All participants were allowed to accept or decline the escort. On average, HIV-positive clients saw an HIV specialist less than an hour after being diagnosed.

During 294 testing days, 2,030 individuals agreed to HIV testing, six of whom tested positive. Five of the six agreed to accompany the PHA to an HIV clinic. Further testing revealed that their median CD4 count was 622 white blood cells/mL, indicating they were diagnosed at a relatively earlier stage of infection, researchers stated. (A CD4 count above 500 for someone with HIV in treatment is considered good. The immune system of someone who is HIV-negative person would have a CD4 count of 700-1,000.)

"In many urban areas, community pharmacies play an important role," Calderon said. "While New York pharmacies are not currently allowed to provide blood tests or medical care, they do administer vaccines and provide wellness help. Many area residents view the pharmacists as trustworthy and more accessible than doctors and go to them for advice."

"Our results demonstrate that pharmacies can effectively supplement the current healthcare system for HIV testing, especially in some of our lower-income communities" Calderon added. "They could become an important component of an extended network for informing more people to their HIV status and bringing them into care."

 

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Special K debuts its first ever products featuring quinoa

BY Antoinette Alexander

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Special K is expanding its portfolio with the new Special K Nourish, which is made with a multi-grain blend of superfoods, including quinoa, oats and barley.

Special K Nourish, which comes in hot cereal and nutrition bars, boasts 7g to 8g of protein and 5g of fiber with less than 200 calories.

To help weight-managers focus on — and maintain — positive nutrition, the brand has partnered with Food Network star and registered dietitian nutritionist Ellie Krieger.

"Getting both fiber and protein is an important combination to help keep you on track throughout your weight management journey," Krieger said. "Eating a breakfast with delicious whole grains and positive nutrients is a great way to start your day right and help you accomplish your weight management goals."

To celebrate the launch and help share the nourishment, Special K has partnered with Women’s Health to support the FEED Foundation via "Run 10 Feed 10" races throughout the country. For each share of the Special K Nourish news, Special K will donate a meal to the FEED foundation — with a goal of donating up to 100,000 meals.

Special K Nourish hot cereal comes in three flavors — Maple Brown Sugar Crunch, Cranberry Almond and Cinnamon Raisin Pecan — and the nutrition bars are available in Dark Chocolate Nut Delight, Cranberry Almond and Lemon Twist.

Available at retailers nationwide, Special K Nourish hot cereal is sold in two-count packages for $2.29 and Special K Nourish nutrition bars are sold in boxes of five for $6.49.

 

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CVS/pharmacy announces new ‘Classroom Gift Card’ promotion for BTS season

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS/pharmacy is gearing up for back-to-school season with a new "Classroom Gift Card" promotion that allows customers to earn gift cards when shopping for essentials at more than 7,500 locations nationwide.

Running from Aug. 11 to 31, members of the ExtraCare program will receive a $5 CVS/pharmacy gift card after spending $20 on select items featured in the weekly circular.

Participants can choose to use the gift cards they earn toward additional back-to-school purchases, or give them to the teachers in their lives to help support classroom expenses.

"We’re always looking for unique ways to deliver value to families and teachers as they get ready to head back to school," stated Judy Sansone, SVP, merchandising for CVS/pharmacy. "Our Classroom Gift Card promotion offers CVS/pharmacy customers a new way to save on a wide range of back-to-school necessities available in one convenient location. Throughout the promotion, ExtraCare members can stock up on everything they need to prepare for the start of school, and receive a bonus $5 gift card to help save money on future shopping trips."

Customers can find qualifying products in the CVS/pharmacy circular beginning Aug. 11. Products included in the promotion range from backpacks and lunch boxes to school supplies, glue and binders from many national brands as well as Caliber, a CVS/pharmacy exclusive line of home and office supplies. Also included are household necessities and such grocery items as peanut butter, jam, cereal, juice boxes and treats ideal for packed lunches and after-school snacks.

All qualifying products will be marked as part of the "Classroom Gift Card" promotion. Eligible products will change each week of the promotion. Shoppers will have the opportunity to take advantage of the deal each week and may earn up to two $5 gift cards per week. The gift cards may then be used on nearly everything in the store, and can be combined with ExtraBucks Rewards and coupons for even greater savings.

 

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