Evaluating the impact of pharmacist-led HIV and HCV screening and education on adults experiencing homelessness in Spokane, Washington

Primary author: Sorosh Kherghehpoush
Co-author(s): Kimberly McKeirnan

Primary college/unit: College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Campus: Spokane


Over half a million people experience homelessness on a given night in the United States. As a result of increased exposure to disease, violence, unsanitary conditions, stress, malnutrition and substance abuse, homeless persons experience medical problems and treatment complications at higher rates than the general population.

Chronic disease states that require uninterrupted treatment and high rates of adherence, such as Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS, are more difficult to control in those with unstable housing. Individuals living with HIV/HCV who are unaware of their infection are more likely to transmit these diseases than persons who are aware of their HIV/HCV diagnosis. Gay and bisexual men account for the majority of new HIV diagnoses followed by injection drug users who account for the majority of Hepatitis C infection, two sub-populations that are also disproportionately affected by homelessness.

Given the barriers to clinical engagement and the persistent stigma, HIV and HepC provide an important opportunity for pharmacist involvement.

In this research study, participants will undergo an HIV and HCV point-of-care screening test complimented with comprehensive HIV and HCV education and personalized risk mitigation strategies. Study participants who have a reactive screening are referred to a partnering HIV/HCV specialist to establish care and the local health district for anonymous partner notification.

There are wide-ranging implications associated with this study. Early recognition and treatment to reduce transmission. Increased access to care even for the uninsured. Lower healthcare costs associated with emergency room visits. improved health literacy of a vulnerable population.