Walgreens has announced that it is working with Greater Than AIDS, a national public information response to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic, and 220 health departments, AIDS service organizations, and other community organizations to help provide free HIV testing and information at participating Walgreens stores in more than 180 cities on National HIV Testing Day on June 27.
Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS are helping the participating testing partners to expand the free HIV testing to even more locations this year with a focus on heavily affected communities. Since 2011, more than 40,000 HIV tests have been conducted as part of the activation. BioLytical Laboratories and OraSure Technologies, Inc. are donating test kits and Abbott Rapid Diagnostics is providing support for outreach.
Local agencies will be at participating Walgreens stores to provide free, confidential, and fast test results on site, without the need to schedule an appointment. Counselors will be on hand to answer questions about HIV prevention and treatment options, including PrEP, a medication that offers another effective means of protection for those testing negative for HIV.
“Walgreens has supported people living with HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic more than 30 years ago,” said Glen Pietrandoni, senior director, patient care and advocacy, at Walgreens. “Early testing can mean access to effective treatment and the opportunity to go on to live a healthy normal lifespan. In addition, with proper adherence to medication, successfully treated patients cannot easily transmit the virus to others. As we continue to work towards an end to HIV/AIDS, it is crucial that testing and trusted resources on treatment are made more widely available within communities.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends HIV testing as part of routine health care. An estimated 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV and approximately 1-in-7 are unaware of their status.
“There are more options than ever to prevent and treat HIV,” said Tina Hoff, senior vice president and director, health communications and media partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which leads Greater Than AIDS. “The first step is knowing your status. This collaboration normalizes HIV testing as part of everyday life, while helping to educate about these advances.”
The community partnership is part of an ongoing commitment by Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS to broaden the reach of HIV testing and information in non-traditional settings and to support the outreach of local organizations. Year round, HIV-trained pharmacy staff are available at more than 1,000 Walgreens locations nationwide, including communities with high HIV prevalence, offering one-on-one, confidential medication counseling to support treatment adherence, and assisting with other care needs, such as identifying financial assistance options.