AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 515–524 | Cite as

Availability, Accessibility, and Price of Rapid HIV Self-Tests, New York City Pharmacies, Summer 2013

  • Julie E. MyersEmail author
  • Olivia Y. El-Sadr Davis
  • Elliott R. Weinstein
  • Molly Remch
  • Amy Edelstein
  • Amina Khawja
  • Julia A. Schillinger
Original Paper


We conducted an in-person survey of New York City (NYC) pharmacies to assess the availability, accessibility, and price of the over-the-counter, rapid HIV self-test kit. NYC pharmacies were stratified into high, moderate and low morbidity neighborhoods by the HIV diagnosis rate of the neighborhood in which the pharmacy was located. A random sample of 500 pharmacies was taken [250 from high morbidity neighborhoods (HighMN) and 250 from low morbidity neighborhoods (LowMN)]. Pharmacies were excluded if: closed during survey, non-retail, or >10 min walk from subway. Project staff visited pharmacies to determine kit availability (in pharmacy on day of survey), accessibility (not locked/behind counter), and price (marked on shelf/product). Of 361 pharmacies (161 LowMN; 200 HighMN), kits were available in 27 % and accessible in 10 %; there was no difference by neighborhood. Kits were most often kept behind the pharmacy counter; this was more common in HighMN than in LowMN. Kits were kept solely behind the pharmacy counter in 52 %. Median price was US $42.99 without variability across neighborhoods. The rapid HIV self-test had limited availability and access in retail pharmacies. The high median price measured suggests that cost remained a barrier.


Diagnosis Self-testing HIV Screening Pharmacy 


Llevamos a cabo una encuesta a farmacias en la ciudad de Nueva York para evaluar la disponibilidad, acceso y precio del autoexamen rápido para el VIH (prueba casera de VIH). Clasificamos los barrios de la ciudad de acuerdo a si tienen una taza de diagnósticos de VIH alta, moderada o baja, y tomamos una muestra aleatoria de 500 farmacias [250 en áreas con una taza de diagnósticos de VIH alta (HighMN, por sus siglas en inglés) y 250 en áreas con una taza de diagnósticos de VIH baja (LowMN, por sus siglas en inglés)]. Se excluyeron las farmacias que: estaban cerradas durante el sondeo; las que no atienden al público; o las que se ubican más de 10 minutos caminando de una parada del metro. El personal del estudio visitó las farmacias para determinar la disponibilidad (de venta el día de la encuesta), el acceso (en áreas libres o detrás del mostrador), y el precio de venta (marcado en el estante o en el producto). De 361 farmacias visitadas (161 LowMN; 200 HighMN), el autoexamen rápido para el VIH estaba disponible en el 27 % y accesible en áreas libres en el 10 %; no hubo diferencias por tipo de barrio. En la mayoría (52 %) de farmacias con pruebas disponibles, los autoexamenes se encontraban detrás del mostrador de la farmacia; esto fue más común en HighMN que en LowMN. La mediana de precio fue de US $42.99, sin diferencia por tipo de barrio. La disponibilidad y el libre acceso al autoexamen rápido para el VIH fueron limitados en farmacias. Su alto precio indica que el costo puede seguir siendo una barrera al acceso.



The authors wish to thank Christine Borges and Blayne Cutler for their overall support of the project, Saiganesh Ravikumar for geocoding the pharmacy data, Yi-Ci (Mary) Shao for preparing the map, and Rafael Ponce and Paul Kobrak for translating the abstract.


This work was supported in part by a cooperative agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

As a public health surveillance project as determined by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, informed consent was not obtained from pharmacists/pharmacy technicians.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie E. Myers
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Olivia Y. El-Sadr Davis
    • 1
  • Elliott R. Weinstein
    • 1
  • Molly Remch
    • 1
  • Amy Edelstein
    • 1
  • Amina Khawja
    • 1
  • Julia A. Schillinger
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and ControlNew York City Department of Health and Mental HygieneNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of MedicineColumbia University College of Physicians and SurgeonsNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Bureau of Sexually Transmitted Disease ControlNew York City Department of Health and Mental HygieneNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Division of STD PreventionNational Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB PreventionAtlantaUSA

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