DEERFIELD, Ill. — On World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, Walgreens will encourage communities to focus on the importance of HIV testing and early treatment, both services addressed through its more than 700 HIV-specialized pharmacies coast to coast, the company announced Wednesday.
“While many HIV patients visit their physicians only once or twice a year, they typically see their pharmacist at least every month,” stated Suzanne Hansen, Walgreens group VP pharmacy operations. “Our pharmacists are members of the healthcare community and are well-positioned to support HIV patients in addressing the variety of issues they may face, including help with side effects, emotional support and motivation to take their medications as prescribed. These interventions can positively influence HIV medication adherence, which can be key to improving overall health.”
Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies directly support the National HIV/AIDS Strategy by offering a range of personalized services that can improve health outcomes, increase access and help fill gaps in care, particularly in AIDS-endemic communities where stigma and other disparities may hamper diagnosis and complicate treatment.
The HIV-specialized pharmacies are equipped with systems, processes and safety checks that operate “behind the scenes” to provide discreet specialized care in a convenient walk-in setting. Each site is fully stocked with HIV medications and a wide range of related healthcare essentials. Walgreens HIV-specialized locations are staffed by pharmacists, technicians and other workers who have special HIV training.
With discretion in mind, Walgreens does not use HIV/AIDS-related signs to call out specialized locations. Customers can visit HIV.Walgreens.com to find the nearest HIV-specialized location, as well as to review pharmacists’ HIV credentials and profiles.
A Walgreens study of more than 15,000 HIV patients showed that those who received care through an HIV-specialized pharmacy were significantly more adherent to their medication (74%) than those receiving care through a traditional, nonspecialized pharmacy (69%).
Patients who do not take their medication as prescribed run the risk of treatment failure — meaning the medication no longer works — which can have serious and even fatal health implications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that only 25% of Americans with HIV have the virus under control.
More than 2,000 Walgreens pharmacists across the country have completed special HIV/AIDS-accredited educational programs, including social and cultural training, along with annual continuing education. Thousands more nonpharmacist employees also receive special HIV sensitivity training.