The APPROACH Study
Researchers in the School of Pharmacy at Memorial University and in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science at the University of Alberta have initiated a new research project called the APPROACH Study ("A new APPROACH to HIV Testing: Adaptation of POCT for Pharmacies to Reduce risk and Optimize Access to Care in HIV”).
A primary goal of this innovative study is to develop and implement an effective community-pharmacy based HIV point of care testing (or “rapid” HIV testing) program that aims to reach those at risk of HIV infection and those who have never been tested.
Point of care testing (POCT) for HIV is being offered in select community pharmacies in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) and in Alberta (AB). Participating pharmacies are located in:
- St. John's (Shoppers Drug Mart, 250 LeMarchant Road)
- Corner Brook (Shoppers Drug Mart, 93 West Street)
- and Edmonton (Community Members Pharmacy, 10611 101 Street NW)
To take part in the APPROACH research study and receive your HIV test, you must:
- be 18 years of age or older
- bring your MCP number
- not have previously been diagnosed with HIV infection
At the St. John's and Corner Brook locations, all you need to do is drop by during advertised testing hours and approach the pharmacy counter. There, you can verbally request an HIV test, or you can hand in a slip of paper that reads “HIV test please”. At the Edmonton location, you simply need to call the pharmacy to make an appointment on one of the advertised testing days. At all three locations, the pharmacist will meet with you in a private counseling room, provide you with information about HIV, obtain your consent to participate in the study and be tested for HIV, discuss your readiness to learn your HIV status, and answer your questions.
The HIV testing procedure is free, confidential, and simple - it involves only a quick finger prick (similar to a blood glucose test). Test results are available within a few minutes, and you will be supported by a linkage to care plan that involves community support organizations and health care providers, depending on your individual needs.
The rapid HIV test is considered a screening test, not a diagnostic test. Clients who receive a reactive HIV test will be given a bloodwork requisition form by the pharmacist to obtain confirmatory HIV testing through the usual lab, and will be followed up by the provincial HIV program nurse practitioner. Clients who receive a non-reactive rapid HIV test result are HIV-negative and do not require further HIV testing (unless they have had a high-risk encounter within the past 3 months). Regardless of your HIV test results, the pharmacist will recommend that you also be tested for other sexually transmitted infections, such as hepatitis C and syphilis, and will provide instructions and resources to help you if you choose to do so.
For more information about this study or to ask if and how you can take part, please contact:
The project has been approved by the Health Research Ethics Board and is funded by a research grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).