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Walgreens, Greater Than AIDS to provide free HIV testing

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS, a coalition of public and private sector partners united in response to the domestic epidemic, are teaming with health departments and local AIDS organizations to provide free HIV testing at 47 Walgreens stores in 20 cities across the nation in June in support of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, the companies announced last week.

“These testing events provide valuable and vital opportunities to help the communities we serve,” stated Glen Pietrandoni, Walgreens senior manager of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. “Walgreens has supported people living with HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic through its ability to offer accessible pharmacy, health and wellness guidance to patients, wherever they live. Our pharmacists are developing relationships, listening to concerns and providing education and support.”

“This is a powerful example of what can be achieved when the public and private sector come together in response to HIV/AIDS,” added Tina Hoff, SVP and director of health communication and media partnerships for the Kaiser Family Foundation, a founding partner of Greater Than AIDS.

An additional 138 Walgreens stores in the participating communities will help publicize the free testing through in-store messaging, including posters, post cards and in-store audio. And Walgreens will help promote National HIV Testing Day with special messages on June 27 on its Times Square digital display.

More than 50 state and local health departments and AIDS service organizations are coordinating the testing and providing results on-site at participating Walgreens locations, as well as supporting outreach. Free HIV tests will be available June 27 to 29 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at select Walgreens locations in Atlanta; Baltimore; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; New Orleans; New York; Oakland, Calif.; Philadelphia; San Francisco; St. Louis; Washington; and West Palm Beach, Fla.

This marks the second year Walgreens has teamed with Greater Than AIDS and local organizations to bring free HIV testing to communities with more than twice the number of stores and markets participating in 2012 than last year. 

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CDC: Before 2010, only half of adults followed disease-prevention recommendations

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — Only about half of U.S. adults received selected preventive services — such as screenings, consultations and prescriptions — from a healthcare professional before 2010, according to a study published last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, "Use of Selected Clinical Preventive Services Among Adults – United States, 2007-2010," provides baseline data on the use of selected adult preventive services, including aspirin or other blood-thinning therapy, controlling blood pressure, screening for and controlling high cholesterol, and ending tobacco use.

Among the findings:

  • Of patients with heart disease primarily affecting the blood vessels, only 47% were prescribed the recommended daily use of aspirin during visits to their doctors;

  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines for the prevention of high blood pressure state that adults 18 years old and older with high blood pressure should receive a clinical treatment plan that might include medications and monthly follow-up visits until healthy blood pressure is achieved, yet less than half (44%) of people with high blood pressure had it under control;

  • Similarly, despite strong evidence that screening and treating for high cholesterol reduces sickness and death due to heart disease, about 33.4% of men and 25.6% of women were not screened during the preceding five years. Of those adults identified with high levels of LDL cholesterol, only about 32% of men and 32% of women had it under control; and

  • According to data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Health Interview Summary, fewer than 1-in-13 tobacco users were prescribed medications to help them end their tobacco use when they saw their doctor.

"Clinical preventive services prevent heart attack, stroke, cancer and other diseases and save lives," stated CDC director Thomas Frieden. "This report provides a snapshot of preventive services for U.S. adults before 2010. As we look to the future, we can track how our nation’s health is progressing through better prevention in health care."

The data could change in the future because of certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the CDC noted. These include a requirement for new private health insurance plans to cover recommended preventive services with no cost-sharing. The healthcare law also requires coverage for a new annual wellness visit under Medicare and eliminates cost sharing for recommended preventive services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. The law also gives state Medicaid programs financial incentives to cover preventive services for adults and supports initiatives to improve public understanding of the benefits of preventive services.

In 2011, the Affordable Care Act provided approximately 54 million Americans with at least one new free preventive service through their private health insurance plans. An estimated 32.5 million people with Medicare received at least one free preventive benefit in 2011, including the new Annual Wellness Visit.

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Walgreens disabilities initiative serves as bedrock for broader public/private engagement

BY Michael Johnsen

WINDSOR, Conn. — Top-level executives from more than a dozen major U.S. companies on Monday joined with government officials to launch a nationwide public-private sector initiative to advance employment of people with disabilities. The companies and officials plan to work together to achieve common goals, including to identify and resolve employment barriers facing people with disabilities, share experience and best practices, raise visibility around the effort and awareness of the significant benefits, and expand participation.

The initiative arose from the CEO Summit focused on employment of people with disabilities on June 4 hosted by Walgreens at the company’s Windsor, Conn., distribution center. The summit was held at the Walgreens facility to provide participants a first-hand look at the company’s robust effort to employ people with disabilities. About 50% of the workforce at the distribution center has a disability, but all employees work as equals with the same responsibilities and performance standards.

Summit participants included government officials led by Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Rep. Pet Sessions, R-Texas; and Delaware governor Jack Markell, vice chairman of the National Governors Association. Participating companies included Amerigroup, Ascend Performance Materials, Best Buy, Clarks Companies, Ernst & Young, GE Lighting, IBM, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Lundbeck, McLane, Merck, OfficeMax, SAP AG, Procter & Gamble, UPS, Walgreens and Walmart.

Following the summit, the officials and companies made a commitment to schedule additional activities with expanded participation, starting with meetings at the U.S. Business Leadership Network conference in Orlando, Fla., in October of this year; summits in Dallas and Washington, D.C.; a website to share information and best practices; and future activities to expand and promote the employment of people with disabilities and address barriers.

"The Walgreens facility is powerful proof that people with disabilities are valuable assets to our workforce," Blumenthal said. "I appreciate the leadership of these companies on this important issue, and I’m very eager to work with them to employ more people with disabilities in Connecticut and across the nation. All people with disabilities deserve the dignity of work, and we should continue to find ways to help make this possible."

"Hiring workers who happen to have some type of disability but can still do a good job and want to work is a win for business, for employees and for our communities," said Mike Mikan, interim CEO of Best Buy. "Our distribution facility in Shepherdsville, Ky., is proof positive that highly motivated, productive employees with disabilities deliver strong performance on every metric from productivity to safety to quality. We plan to extend this employment model to other facilities, and we encourage other companies to consider this untapped talent pool."

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