ATLANTA — Getting an AIDS test at the drug store could become as common as a flu shot or blood pressure check, if a new pilot program takes off.
The $1.2 million program will offer the free rapid HIV tests at pharmacies and in-store clinics in 24 cities and rural communities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disclosed Tuesday.
‘‘We believe we can reach more people by making testing more accessible and reduce the stigma associated with HIV,’’ Dr. Kevin Fenton, who oversees the agency’s HIV prevention programs, said in a statement.
The tests are already available at seven places, including Washington, D.C., Oakland, Calif., and an Indian health service clinic in Montana. The CDC will soon pick 17 more locations.
The HIV test is a swab inside the mouth; it takes about 20 minutes for a preliminary result. The test maker says it’s correct 99 percent of the time. If the test is positive, pharmacy employees will refer customers to a local health department or other health care providers for a lab blood test to confirm the results, counseling, and treatment. The workers are expected to deliver the news face-to-face and give customers privacy, the CDC said.