Local Pharmacy Expanding HIV Testing Options

More ways to take control of your health

As of January 2020, guys into guys and other community members can receive free HIV testing at a local pharmacy on a walk-in basis, OHIP card optional.

  • Where: Shoppers Drug Mart (455 Bank Street, Bank Street/Gladstone Avenue)
  • When: Every Monday night, between 5 pm – 9 pm 
  • How: Based on your comfort level, you can verbally ask the pharmacy staff or hand them a written note asking to be tested. 

This new service is being provided by the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) in partnership with this Shoppers Drug Mart location. Ottawa has been selected as one of the two cities for this pilot. 

MAX Ottawa is collaborating on this project through site promotion and providing resources to share with clients. This includes mental health navigation cards and safer sex and partying supplies. 

Is pharmacy testing needed?

Yes! An estimated 14% of Ontarians don’t know they’re HIV positive. In addition, guys into guys are still the largest group of new diagnoses. 

While knowing your status is an important first step to taking control of your health, service providers understand that limited times and locations where testing is offered can make it difficult. That’s one reason why the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) is piloting pharmacy-delivered HIV testing.  

This delivery method has been found to be helpful, particularly for those who are new to HIV testing or for people who prefer to test often. Being able to get tested outside of regular business hours increases comfort and ease, encouraging more people across Ontario to know their status. 

Who will be providing the testing?

The pharmacists are specially trained to deliver the test and answer any questions you may have about HIV prevention and treatment in a caring and confidential manner. 

What will a visit look like?

The pharmacist will use a Rapid Point-of-Care Test that uses a small drop of blood from your finger and takes about a minute to get a result. You can see how the test works at the manufacturers webpage. 

Regardless of your results, the pharmacist will provide you with everything you need to know. This includes further and guidance on programs and services in the community that can help meet your specific needs. 

If you have tested HIV-positive, the pharmacists will provide directions on how to access further lab testing and an HIV-specialty doctor right away. With treatment, people living with HIV can continue to live healthy, long-lasting lives.

Alexandra Musten, Senior Lead of Testing & Clinical Initiatives of the OHTN explains what people can expect from a visit. “When a client arrives at the participating pharmacy site, they can request the test directly at the pharmacy counter,” she says. “If people feel uncomfortable requesting the test out loud, they can also pass a note to the pharmacist like a prescription. Clients who meet the eligibility criteria will be invited to the pharmacist’s confidential room where the test will be performed.” 

Have more questions? 

Visit the Get a Test website to find more information about pharmacy-delivered HIV testing.