DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens has teamed with Greater Than AIDS, a national campaign in response to HIV/AIDS in the United States, to distribute informational resources and specialized HIV-related services at more than 300 Walgreens pharmacies in heavily affected communities, the Kaiser Family Foundation announced Tuesday.
At these specialized pharmacy locations, Walgreens will have pharmacists on hand to offer one-on-one medication counseling and other support services that provide customers living with HIV/AIDS and their families with compassionate, confidential care. Free rapid oral HIV testing also will be available at select Walgreens locations from June 22 to 24 with technical support and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and test kits from OraSure Technologies.
State and local health departments and community-based organizations in the local markets are conducting the tests and providing pre- and post-test counseling.
"Despite overwhelming evidence that early diagnosis and treatment play an important role both in the health of those who are positive and in reducing the spread of HIV, many Americans at highest risk for infection still have not been tested," stated Tina Hoff, SVP and director of health communication and media partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a co-founding partner of Greater Than AIDS. "The commitment by Walgreens to bring HIV information and testing into the pharmacy setting helps to reduce the stigma associated with HIV and make testing more accessible for those who may not have access to traditional healthcare settings."
Additionally, Ebony, a publication of Johnson Publishing Co., has partnered with Greater Than AIDS and Walgreens to produce a special "Be Greater Than AIDS" informational guide to be distributed in 1.6 million copies of the July issue of the magazine, reaching an estimated 11 million readers. One million additional copies of the guide, which includes information about HIV testing and tips for talking with partners and healthcare providers, will be distributed free in select Walgreens stores and by AIDS service organizations and other community groups. Ebony also supports Greater Than AIDS with ongoing public service announcement placements and special editorial content on HIV/AIDS.
A new national survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicated that Americans — and especially African-Americans, who are among those at highest risk for HIV — want to know more about HIV testing, including who should get tested (42% overall, 63% of African-Americans) and where to go to get tested (38% overall, 58% of African-Americans).
"Access to testing, education and care are critical when it comes to the treatment and prevention of this complex condition," said Walgreens manager of specialized disease state programs Glen Pietrandoni. "This month marks 30 years since the first case of AIDS, and ever since, Walgreens has been a trusted resource. As a pharmacy focused on meeting our customers’ health and daily living needs, Walgreens is committed to providing services and support in communities highly impacted by HIV."
According to the CDC, more than 1 million Americans are living with HIV today, yet 1-in-5 of those infected don’t know their status. And one-third are diagnosed so late in the course of their infection that they develop AIDS within one year.