Walgreens launches high-impact push in support of World AIDS Day campaign

Stores in heavily affected communities to debut new signage, informational materials

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens is making a high-impact health statement to mark World AIDS Day that will be hard to ignore.

On Wednesday, Dec. 1, the nation’s top pharmacy chain will kick off a new collaboration with Greater Than AIDS, a health advocacy group, by streaming HIV messaging on the Walgreens digital board that rises 341 feet above midtown Manhattan in New York’s Times Square. In addition, more than 200 Walgreens drug stores in heavily affected communities across America are debuting new signage and informational materials that carry a Greater Than AIDS message.

The moves come as part of what the company says is “an increased commitment to HIV/AIDS outreach, education and accessibility.” Walgreens has enlisted its pharmacists in the campaign.

“Pharmacists are some of the most trusted healthcare professionals in the nation,” said Walgreens president of pharmacy services Kermit Crawford. “It’s our job to not only provide information about medication options but to also listen to patient needs.”

To that end, said Crawford, “Our pharmacy staff will help play a large role in our effort with Greater Than AIDS to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, especially among African-Americans and other disproportionately affected groups.”

More than 800 Walgreens pharmacists at retail and medical facility locations across the country and call centers are specially trained to help patients living with HIV/AIDS, according to the chain. Over the next year, Walgreens said it would add another 150 locations that offer special HIV/AIDS services. Online, the pharmacy and health retailer is offering additional HIV/AIDS information regarding treatment, medications and support services at HIV.walgreens.com.

Another website, Greaterthan.org/walgreens, provides information about HIV and Greater Than AIDS, which is a national movement that brings together the public and private sectors in response to the U.S. HIV/AIDS crisis.

“What is particularly powerful about the partnership between Greater Than AIDS and Walgreens is that it brings HIV information to people where they live, along with other health issues,” said Drew Altman, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which provides direction to Greater Than AIDS. “Walgreens is setting a powerful example of corporate leadership by putting its brand and vast retail footprint behind an issue of such public health importance.”

In June 2011, Walgreens will team up with Greater Than AIDS to support “HIV Take Action” Month with special promotions, and participating Walgreens pharmacies will offer in-store services, including HIV testing. And throughout the year, Walgreens digital billboards in Times Square and Las Vegas will post photos submitted by Americans that celebrate personal “deciding moments” in response to HIV/AIDS, the company revealed Tuesday.

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