HIV, Hepatitis C rapid testing now in D.C.

D.C. pharmacy first to offer HIV, Hepatitis C rapid testing

A D.C. pharmacy has become the first in the nation to screen for HIV and Hepatitis C with a new rapid test—providing results in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee.

The Ora-Quick HIV test is the first of its kind to detect the virus through an oral swab. The Hepatitis C test was just approved by the FDA—both give results in 20 minutes. D.C.’s Bio Scrip pharmacy is the only place in the country where you'll find a pharmacist offering both tests

"You would do a blood test and you'd have to wait two weeks,” said David Purdy, founder of the World AIDS Institute.

In 1995, David Purdy's HIV diagnosis involved an agonizing wait.

“Being HIV positive, it's certainly not the end of the world and certainly in this country where we have access and care,” Purdy said.

From those two weeks—to 20 minutes, this northwest pharmacy is taking the anxiety out of HIV and Hepatitis C screening.

"We're giving one more area where people can stop and get their status, they need to get their status,” said Heather Free, the pharmacist-in-charge at the Bio Scrip pharmacy.

Free is the first pharmacist in the country to offer both rapid tests, made by Orasure Technologies.
The Centers for Disease Control has approached her about including this Bio Scrip pharmacy in a national pilot.

“It's something that a patient can come in here and do themselves with my guidance of helping them get it in the vial and get results,” Free said.

Three percent of Washingtonians have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

“Even though there's a serious problem here in D.C., I think they're taking the right steps,” Purdy said.

In the district, no infant has been born HIV positive in three years. The CDC estimates more than one million Americans have HIV—four times as many have Hepatitis C.

“I think overall, this might be a model,” Purdy said.

Ora-Sure, the company that makes these tests, is hoping its over-the-counter HIV test will be approved this summer. These tests are being offered for free at the northwest Bio Scrip pharmacy for nine to four on weekdays.