DEERFIELD, Ill. — In collaboration with the National Minority AIDS Council, Walgreens is furthering its commitment to improve HIV treatment outcomes for African Americans living with HIV by deepening pharmacists’ training and expanding access to the pneumococcal vaccination specifically indicated for persons living with HIV as incidents of flu and pneumonia rise, the retailer announced Tuesday.
Pneumococcal disease can spread from a sneeze or cough and can cause significant or life threatening infection for those with chronic illnesses. People living with HIV are at a higher risk of pneumococcal disease — 35 times greater than someone unaffected by HIV at a similar age. African-Americans are at an even greater risk as nearly half of all new HIV infections are within the population, and African-Americans have the lowest seasonal vaccination rate at 40%.
Pneumococcal vaccinations specifically indicated for persons living with HIV are available at all Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies to help meet preventive care needs of African-Americans living with HIV. Walgreens specially trained pharmacists are working closely with physicians to understand patient needs and deliver individualized, comprehensive care, including vaccine administration.
“We understand that African-Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV and can be heavily impacted during the cold and flu season when pneumonia may be more prevalent,” stated Glen Pietrandoni, Walgreens director of specialty products and services, virology. “In addition to stocking our HIV-specialized pharmacies with the CDC-recommended vaccine, we have provided additional pharmacist training so that each of our more than 2,000 HIV-specialized pharmacists is prepared to provide both seasonal and general wellness consultations and administer this vitally important vaccination.”
With HIV-specialized pharmacies accessible to nearly 90% of the U.S. HIV population, Walgreens is uniquely positioned to help decrease vaccine preventable diseases in HIV-positive populations that were previously difficult-to-reach and often live in medically underserved areas.
“It is especially critical that people living with HIV remain vigilant not only about managing the virus, but also protecting their overall health,” said Kim Johnson, NMAC director of community advancement and leadership strategies. “With cold, flu and pneumonia rampant, the importance of protecting already compromised immune systems is even more pronounced. This means getting vaccinated, eating well and regularly washing your hands. NMAC is pleased to partner with Walgreens to encourage minority communities to safeguard their health by promoting and expanding access to critical preventive health services.”