With June 27 serving as National HIV Testing Day, Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS are working with health departments, HIV/AIDS service organizations, and other community organizations to provide free HIV testing and information today from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at select Walgreens stores in more than 260 cities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately one in 20 African-American men, one in 48 African-American women, and one in two African-American gay and bisexual men will receive a diagnosis of HIV during their lifetimes.
The CDC has also reported that African-Americans account for almost half (44 percent in 2010) of all new HIV infections in the United States, as well as more than one-third (40 percent in 2013) of all people living with HIV.
HIV testing is recommended as part of routine health care, yet many Americans are not being tested as often as advised. The CDC has reported that one in seven people living with HIV in the U.S. today are unaware of their status.
“Walgreens continues to support HIV testing since it is a critical first step in developing effective prevention and care strategies, regardless of status,” said Glen Pietrandoni, senior director, patient care and advocacy with Walgreens. “With more than 3,000 HIV-trained Walgreens pharmacists in communities across the nation, we can uniquely support HIV testing, education and care, working towards an end to HIV/AIDS.”
In addition to offering on-site free and fast HIV testing, counselors from local agencies will answer questions about HIV prevention and treatment options, including PrEP. No appointment is required.
The use of antiretroviral (ARV) medications to prevent HIV transmission, as well as PrEP, a daily pill to protect against HIV, offer new pathways to ending HIV. Based on the strength of the scientific advances, the White House and many states have set ambitious goals of significantly reducing HIV infections over the next decade.
“Public knowledge has not always kept up with the science,” said Tina Hoff, senior vice president and director of health communications and media partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Public-private partnerships like this help to close the knowledge gaps about HIV and connect people with services in their communities to get the care they need.”
According to a recent national survey by the Foundation, which runs Greater Than AIDS, fewer than half of Americans know about PrEP, and many many understate the health and preventative benefits of HIV treatment.
The National HIV Testing Day community partnership is part of an ongoing commitment by Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS to extend the reach of HIV testing and information to non-traditional settings and support the outreach of local agencies. More than 48,000 free HIV tests have been provided since 2011 as part of the annual event.
For a complete list of participating Walgreens locations and supporting partners for this year’s National HIV Testing Day, as well as additional information about HIV testing, including year-round testing sites, visit www.greaterthan.org/walgreens.