HIV and Hepatitis B and C point-of-care tests in Portuguese Community Pharmacies
News from Portugal
In Portugal, community pharmacies will be allowed to perform point-of-care tests for the detection of HIV infection and viral hepatitis (B and C) without the need for a previous medical prescription.
The Ministry of Health authorised the use of devices for these rapid tests in pharmacies and also in pathology laboratories to reduce the “rate of late diagnosis of HIV/AIDS in Portugal is "highest" in the European Union.”
Likewise, to other biochemical and physiological parameters already evaluated in pharmacies network (such as diabetes, cholesterol or PSA), these rapid screening tests will allow increasing earlier detection of these diseases. In about 15 minutes, patients could have access to the results that should always have to be confirmed later if they are reactive (positive). This measure will allow early identification of cases of infection and will eventually contribute to reducing social stigma.
The National competent authority – INFARMED IP - is now publishing the necessary guidelines to start these tests, safeguarding confidentiality and privacy and providing appropriate information by health professionals – “who will have training for counselling before and after the test and appropriate referral”, referred the office to the national press.
The adherence of pharmacies to perform these tests is voluntary.