DEERFIELD, Ill., June 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In support of National HIV Testing Day, June 27, Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (Nasdaq: WAG), the nation's largest drugstore chain, and Greater Than AIDS, a coalition of about 200 public and private sector partners united in response to the domestic AIDS epidemic, are teaming with health departments and local AIDS service organizations across the country to encourage community members to take advantage of free HIV testing.
Free HIV tests will be available June 26-28 at select Walgreens in more than 140 cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Nearly 200 state and local health departments and AIDS service organizations (ASOs) will lead testing events and will provide results on-site within minutes.
Of the more than 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S., an estimated one in six do not know that they are infected and only one in four has their virus under control with treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment saves lives and is known to reduce the spread of HIV. Those with HIV who are on treatment and in care can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others by as much as 96 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages everyone to know their status.
"Since the beginning of the epidemic, Walgreens has served as a trusted resource to help people know their status and manage their condition," said Glen Pietrandoni, senior director, virology, specialty products and services, Walgreens. "We are proud to collaborate with Greater Than AIDS and community partners to increase access to testing and education which we know is critical to being a part of the solution to end AIDS."
"Greater Than AIDS is about communities working together to achieve a greater goal. These testing events are powerful examples 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 of Health Communication and Media Partnerships, Kaiser Family Foundation, a founding partner of Greater Than AIDS. "Not only will thousands have access to free testing in a familiar and trusted location in their neighborhoods, but the very act of offering the tests in Walgreens helps to normalize HIV testing as a part of routine health care."
Throughout the year, Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS distribute HIV informational resources through Walgreens 700 HIV-specialized pharmacies. These specialized pharmacies have specially trained community pharmacists offering one-on-one, confidential medication counseling to encourage medication adherence, and can also assist with other care needs such as identifying co-pay assistance options.
BioLytical Laboratories donated 10,000 INSTI HIV one-minute, finger-prick test kits to support the effort at select testing sites. Other locations will offer rapid results using available oral fluid or blood-based HIV testing technologies. National organizations like the Black AIDS Institute's Black Treatment Advocacy Networks and AIDS United are mobilizing community networks to recruit individuals in most affected communities to take advantage of the opportunity to learn their HIV status.
For more information on participating locations and testing hours, visit www.greaterthan.org/walgreens.
As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2013 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) vision is to be the first choice in health and daily living for everyone in America, and beyond. Each day, Walgreens provides more than 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 8,216 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 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 750 locations throughout the country.
About Greater Than AIDS
Greater Than AIDS is a leading national public information response focused on the U.S. domestic epidemic. Launched in 2009, it is supported by a broad coalition of public and private sector partners, including: major media and other business leaders; Federal, state and local health agencies and departments; national leadership groups; AIDS service and other community organizations; and foundations, among others. Through targeted media messages and community outreach, Greater Than AIDS works to increase knowledge, reduce stigma and promote actions to stem the spread of the disease. While national in scope, Greater Than AIDS focuses on communities most affected.
The Kaiser Family Foundation provides strategic direction and day-to-day management, as well as oversees the production of the campaigns. The Black AIDS Institute – a think tank exclusively focused on AIDS in Black America – provides leadership and expert guidance and supports community engagement. Additional financial and substantive support is provided by the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Ford Foundation, among others.
 CDC. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report, Vol. 18, No. 5; October 2013. Data are estimates and do not include U.S. dependent area.
SOURCE Kaiser Family Foundation