MENLO PARK, Calif., June 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Walgreens, the nation's largest pharmacy chain, 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 (June 27). 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. Walgreens will help promote National HIV Testing Day with special messages on June 27 on its Times Square digital display, the largest billboard of its kind in the country.
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 27-29 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 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. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Act Against AIDS initiative and the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS, the official sponsor of National HIV Testing Day, also are supporting the effort.
"These testing events provide valuable and vital opportunities to help the communities we serve," said 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."
"Greater Than AIDS is about communities working together to achieve a greater goal. This is a powerful example of what can be achieved when the public and private sector come together in response to 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.
Of the more than 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. today, an estimated one in five, or nearly a quarter of a million people, do not know it. One third of those who are positive are diagnosed so late in the course of their infection they develop AIDS within one year. Early diagnosis and treatment saves lives and is known to reduce the spread of HIV. The CDC encourages everyone to know their status.
"CDC supports testing as one of the most powerful HIV prevention tools we have. It is the pivotal first step in linking people to treatment, care and prevention services," said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. "CDC recommends all adults and adolescents be tested for HIV at least once as a routine part of health care and that those at increased risk—including gay and bisexual men, injection drug users, or persons with multiple sexual partners—be tested at least annually. Testing makes a difference."
Throughout the year, Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS distribute HIV informational resources and services at more than 550 Walgreens pharmacies in heavily affected communities. Designated by Walgreens as "Centers of Excellence," these stores have pharmacists on hand to offer one-on-one medication counseling and other support services that provide customers living with HIV/AIDS – and their families – with compassionate, confidential care.
For more information, including participating Walgreens stores in each city, visit: www.greaterthan.org/walgreens.
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.
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
SOURCE Greater Than AIDS