DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS, a national public information response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, are partnering with more than 180 health departments and local AIDS service organizations (ASOs) in 150 cities to offer free HIV testing.
Walgreens said Thursday that state and local health departments and ASOs will provide trained counselors to conduct the testing, with results given on-site in minutes. Free tests — including those donated by Alere North America, BioLytical Laboratories and The D.I.V.A. Foundation — will be available at the testing sites at select Walgreens pharmacies in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, St. Louis and San Francisco, among other cities, on June 25 to 27.
Being held in the lead-up to National HIV Testing Day on June 27, the events will also be supported by such national organizations as the NAACP and Black AIDS Institute, which will urge community members to know their HIV status and take advantage of the free HIV testing.
An eight-page informational guide from Greater Than AIDS and Walgreens, titled “I Got Tested: What’s Next?”, also will be distributed at the testing events.
“Walgreens is committed to being a part of the solution to end AIDS, and National HIV Testing Day provides a great opportunity to help share critical health information and encourage HIV testing,” Glen Pietrandoni, senior director of virology, specialty products and services at Walgreens, said in a statement. “Working in collaboration with Greater Than AIDS and various community partners during the past four years, we have helped nearly 20,000 people access free testing. We are pleased to be able to continue to help make it easier for those in the communities that we serve to know their status.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that all Americans be screened for HIV as a routine part of medical care. Yet many Americans have never been tested or aren’t being tested as often as recommended, according to national surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Of the more than 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States, an estimated one in seven don’t know that they’re infected, and only three in 10 are in ongoing care and treatment.
“We have come so far in our understanding of HIV,” said Tina Hoff, senior vice president and director of health communication and media partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which launched Greater Than AIDS with the Black AIDS Institute in 2009. “Today, there are very effective treatments that not only help people with HIV to enjoy long, healthy lives but also significantly reduce the chances of passing the virus to others. Knowing one’s status is a crucial first step.”