Community pharmacy sale of over-the-counter (OTC) rapid HIV tests may provide an important extension of the public health system. U.S. pharmacy practise has expanded to include several public health services; however, nothing is known about pharmacist attitudes about OTC sale of HIV tests and related consultation opportunities.
Methods This study identifies and explores the views of pharmacists regarding the sale of OTC rapid HIV tests. Exploratory interviews were conducted among a sample of 17 licenced community pharmacists in a Midwestern U.S. state with moderate HIV incidence. 30-minute interviews were conducted in person or by telephone between May and September 2012. Interviews were recorded and transcribed for a priori and open coding. Three investigators independently coded transcripts to assure interrator reliability.
Findings Pharmacists had positive attitudes about the OTC rapid HIV test, as testing would likely result in more people learning their HIV status. Participants felt that the pharmacy role should not be limited to test kit sale. Pharmacists framed their role as health consultants focused specifically on results consultation and linkage to treatment. Point of sale was identified as the opportunity for consultation about the HIV test and to establish a relationship for future discussion about results and linkage to care.
Conclusion Pharmacist consultation at point of OTC HIV test sale provides an important opportunity to increase options for linkage to HIV care. Future studies should investigate pharmacist opinion and attitudes about the OTC sale of rapid HIV test kits among a larger and more representative sample of community pharmacists, and in states with other geographic, socio demographic and epidemiologic characteristics.