Public-private initiative can help reduce stigma through testing at select community pharmacies and retail clinics, provide greater access to resources and care
DEERFIELD, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Recognizing that access to HIV testing, education and care are critical to the treatment and prevention of the complex condition, Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (NASDAQ: WAG) today announced its participation in an innovative Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pilot program to help connect more people with HIV to care. Through the first phase of the two-year program, select Walgreens pharmacies in Chicago and Washington, D.C., and a select Take Care Clinic in Lithonia, Ga. are offering free HIV testing. The CDC plans to use pilot results from select pharmacies and in-store clinics in urban and rural areas identified as highly impacted by HIV to develop a model that pharmacists and nurse practitioners can use to implement HIV testing throughout the nation.
Testing is free to those getting tested. Walgreens pharmacists and Take Care nurse practitioners are trained to deliver confidential HIV testing and counseling. If a preliminary positive is identified, the provider will refer the patient to a local health care provider for confirmatory testing and care. They will also be given a list of community based organizations to help address other health or social issues.
The Take Care Clinic and all participating Walgreens locations are identified as HIV Centers of Excellence (COE). Pharmacies here are staffed with specially-trained pharmacists who work closely with patients to offer guidance and support with their medication therapy, provide refill reminders and also help identify financial support programs. Walgreens COE pharmacy staff also receive additional education and training about cultural and social issues and challenges related to HIV/AIDS.
“Walgreens is uniquely positioned to advance the role of community pharmacy to become a community health care provider, and this public-private initiative underscores the value of collaboration in helping to raise awareness about HIV testing, prevention and treatment,” said Mike Ellis, Walgreens corporate vice president, specialty and infusion.
Walgreens, the CDC, local elected officials and AIDS service organizations joined together today to announce this public-private collaboration at one of the drugstore chain’s Washington, D.C. locations.
According to the CDC, an estimated 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, but nearly one in five of those infected is unaware of their condition.
“Ensuring that all Americans know their HIV status is critical to reducing new infections,” said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “Collaborating with pharmacists and retail clinic staff to expand HIV testing into community pharmacies allows us to reach more Americans who are unaware of their infection and can ultimately reduce the toll of HIV on the nation.”
June Events Supporting National HIV Testing
Walgreens, along with Greater Than AIDS, a coalition of public and private sector partners united in response to the domestic epidemic, are teaming up with local health departments and AIDS organizations to provide free HIV testing at 47 Walgreens stores in 20 cities across the nation between June 27-29 in support of National HIV Testing Day. An additional 138 Walgreens stores in the participating communities are also helping to promote the free testing.
“Greater Than AIDS is about communities working together to achieve a greater goal. This effort shows what the public and private sector can achieve when they come together to combat HIV/AIDS,” said Tina Hoff, Senior Vice President and Director, Health Communication and Media Partnerships, Kaiser Family Foundation, a founding partner of Greater Than AIDS. 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 27-29 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at select Walgreens locations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, Washington, D.C. and West Palm Beach.
This marks the second year in a row that Walgreens has worked 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. Last year, nearly 1,000 HIV tests were administered with a number of tests coming back positive.
“Access and awareness are instrumental to helping more people know these events, resources and initiatives not only exist, but can help make a meaningful difference,” Ellis said.
To learn more about Walgreens HIV/AIDS support services, visit www.hiv.walgreens.com.
As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2011 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) vision is to become America’s first choice for health and daily living. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The company operates 7,889 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.
About Greater Than AIDS
Greater Than AIDS is an unprecedented coalition of public and private sector partners united in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States, in particular disproportionately affected groups. Through media campaigns and targeted community outreach, Greater Than AIDS works to increase knowledge and understanding about HIV/AIDS and confront the stigma surrounding the disease, while promoting actions to prevent its spread.
The Kaiser Family Foundation -- a leader in health policy and communications -- provides strategic direction and day-to-day management, as well as oversees the production of the media campaign. The Black AIDS Institute -- a think tank exclusively focused on AIDS in Black America -- provides leadership and expert guidance and directs community engagement. Greater Than AIDS is developed in support of Act Against AIDS, an effort by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to refocus attention on the domestic epidemic. Additional, financial and substantive support is provided by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Ford Foundation and MAC AIDS Fund, among others. www.greaterthan.org
Vivika Panagiotakakos, (847) 315-2923