Service case study: HIV testing being offered in Cumbrian pharmacies (December 2016)

Published on: 20th February 2017 | Updated on: 28th March 2022

Community pharmacies in Cumbria have started offering a HIV testing service after OutREACH Cumbria was successful in securing funding for a pharmacy-based service.

The pilot project is funded by Public Health England through the National HIV Prevention Innovation Fund, and is one of 13 successful voluntary-led projects selected from 102 applications that offer new and innovative ways of delivering HIV prevention.

OutREACH Cumbria has worked in collaboration with Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust and Cumbria LPC to set up the pharmacy service, which is being provided by Healthy Living Pharmacies in areas with higher levels of high-risk groups.

The main aim of the service is to increase the uptake of HIV testing among Cumbria residents to reduce late and undiagnosed HIV, however; the test also screens for syphilis and therefore the service also aims to increase the uptake of syphilis testing.

The service is available to all Cumbrian residents aged 18 years of over who are unaware of their HIV status. However, it will be proactively targeted at high-risk groups such as people who have migrated from regions of the world where HIV is common, such as sub Saharan Africa, and MSM (men who have sex with men).

A finger prick blood test will be carried out on patients who request the test or are proactively recruited to the service during a sexual health consultation and patients will then be supplied with the results of the test within 20 minutes. Patients will also be offered sexual health advice, home testing packs for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, as well as the provision of condoms. If patients test positive for HIV, a dried blood spot test will then be carried out to confirm the diagnosis and patients with HIV or syphilis will then be referred to Cumbria Sexual Health Service so the patient can be seen by a specialist at the earliest opportunity.

Further details on this service and other blood-borne virus screening services can be found on the Community Pharmacy England Services Database.

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