The kits, which also detect the hepatitis virus, are now available at pharmacies in Cascais and will progressively be made available elsewhere in the country.
Staff at pharmacies have been given training in the procedures to follow in the event of a positive test reading, both in terms of counsel offered and notification of health authorities.
Initially the tests have to be carried out at pharmacies, but eventually will be available to be carried out at home.
Speaking to Lusa News Agency, Deputy Health Secretary Fernando Araújo reiterated that Cascais is the first place in Portugal to sell the rapid HIV and hepatitis B and C tests, in community pharmacies and pathology and clinical analyses laboratories.
On Tuesday afternoon, Fernando Araújo and the executive director of the UN’s HIV programme, Tim Martineau, visited a pharmacy in Alcabideche, Cascais.
Most pharmacies in Cascais have undergone training by the Pharmacists’ Register to know how to carry out the tests, provide advice and identify risk factors.
If the test results are reactive (which in itself does not indicate a positive result), the pharmacy or the patient should contact the SNS24 helpline, which will refer them to a hospital of the patient’s choice to repeat the test, and, if confirmed, be accompanied by a doctor.
Fernando Araújo said the legislative proposal that goes with the possibility of testing at home has already been approved by the Council of Ministers and promulgated by the President of the Republic.
With these measures, the Ministry of Health intends to increase the early detection of HIV infection and viral hepatitis, with the aim of transforming Portugal into a HIV/AIDS-free country by 2030.
The “fast track to eliminate HIV” commitment ,which has already been signed by Cascais, Lisbon and Porto, was signed with seven more cities on Wednesday.
The new signees to the commitment, which lays out the measures for localities to eradicate HIV/AIDS, are Almada, Amadora, Loures, Oeiras, Odivelas, Sintra and Portimão .
The Deputy State Secretary for Health recalled the importance of reducing the incidence of infections, especially in Greater Lisbon, which has half of all new HIV infections in the country.
Fernando Araújo stressed that in recent years Portugal has seen a significant reduction in the incidence of the disease, but still has a higher number of cases than the European average.