CHICAGO — Walgreens now has certified more than 500 of its pharmacies as HIV Centers of Excellence in communities highly impacted by HIV, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pharmacy operator announced Thursday at the U.S. Conference on AIDS.
These pharmacies are staffed with specially-trained pharmacists that work closely with patients to offer guidance and support with their medication therapy, provide refill reminders and also help identify financial support programs. In addition, pharmacists do community outreach to drive more awareness about services offered through the COEs. These locations are fully stocked with HIV medications often not found at retail pharmacies.
“Since the beginning of the epidemic more than 30 years ago, Walgreens has supported people living with HIV/AIDS through its ability to offer accessible health and wellness guidance to patients across the nation,” Walgreens divisional VP retail clinical services Jack Cantlin said. “Our pharmacists are listening to concerns, developing important relationships and putting community pharmacy in a great position to be even more effective and relevant to those with chronic conditions, wherever they live. These Centers of Excellence offer a new level of support that can ultimately help drive improved outcomes.”
COE-certified Walgreens pharmacy staff must undergo clinical training through the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, known for its HIV/AIDS pharmaceutical care education program. The program includes cultural and social training related to HIV/AIDS issues and challenges and annual renewal to keep skills and knowledge current.
Walgreens also announced its expanded partnership with Greater Than AIDS, a national campaign developed by the Kaiser Family Foundation with the Black AIDS Institute in response to HIV/AIDS in the United States. This June, select Walgreens locations in major markets offered free testing leading up to National HIV Testing Day, as part of the partnership with Greater Than AIDS. Testing was done in coordination with the National Association of People with AIDS, the CDC, state and local health departments and AIDS service organizations in select markets, including Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Miami; New Orleans; Oakland, Calif.; and San Francisco. Due to the success of this testing pilot, the drug store chain now is working with Greater Than AIDS to identify future testing and outreach opportunities to reach those in need. Walgreens also partners with Greater Than AIDS on targeted informational materials on HIV/AIDS for Walgreens customers and in-store signage in heavily affected areas. More information can be found at GreaterThan.org/Walgreens.
Walgreens also is working with AIDS United and national AIDS service organizations to help advance the organization’s mission to end HIV/AIDS in the United States and Puerto Rico. The company has joined AIDS United’s Access to Care initiative, to help link thousands of individuals living with HIV/AIDS in low-income and/or rural areas with the high quality care they need.
“With HIV Centers of Excellence from coast to coast, we are uniquely positioned to work closely with grassroots organizations and communities to help provide access, education and support to those living with and affected by AIDS,” Walgreens senior manager of HIV and AIDS United board member Glen Pietrandoni said.