1Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zurich, Vladimir-Prelog-Weg 4, CH-8093, Zurich, Switzerland. email@example.com.
2Hospital Pharmacy, Kantonsspital Baden, Switzerland. firstname.lastname@example.org.
3Pharmaceutical Care Network Switzerland, Basel, Switzerland. email@example.com.
4Hospital Pharmacy, Luzerner Kantonsspital, Luzern, Switzerland.
5Pharmaceutical Care Research Group, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
6Pharmaceutical Care Network Switzerland, Basel, Switzerland.
Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections are a public health burden worldwide and often go undetected until sequelae develop. Offering HCV screening for the different vulnerable populations in community pharmacies could help prevent further undetected HCV infections. This pilot aimed to assess the feasibility and pharmacist acceptance of HCV rapid antibody saliva testing in community pharmacies.
Methods: A structured pharmaceutical care intervention was developed that included addressing, informing, and screening clients, as well as referral and reporting to subsequent health care providers. Participating pharmacies from French-, German- and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland were trained to provide this service to local vulnerable populations. Information on client recruitment, feasibility, and acceptability of HCV screening was collected.
Results: Of 36 pharmacies initially recruited, 25 started the pilot and approached 435 clients, 145 of whom (33%) were interested in screening. Eight of these rapid antibody tests returned positive (prevalence rate: 5.5%). Facilitators were being able to offer a free rapid test (73%), followed by having training prior to the project (67%) and having a new service to offer (67%). The possibility of clients reacting dismissively (53%) and of unsettling clients (47%) were reported to be the main barriers.
Conclusions: This pilot demonstrated the general feasibility of an HCV screening service with rapid antibody saliva testing in Swiss community pharmacies, which achieved a higher prevalence rate than national estimates. With appropriate communication training and remuneration, Swiss community pharmacies could be an important partner in implementing HCV elimination strategies.