DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS are partnering with health departments and local AIDS service organizations (ASOs) to provide free HIV testing and counseling about prevention strategies.
The drug chain said Monday that testing will be offered at more than 220 Walgreens stores in 130 cities — including Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans and Memphis — on June 27 and 28 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Results will be provided on site by trained counselors. Alere North America, bioLytical Laboratories and OraSure have donated test kits for the activation.
At all participating Walgreens stores, testing partners will provide informational guides about the benefits of early treatment and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). More than 150,000 copies of the Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS-produced “I Got Tested: What’s Next” guides, available in English and Spanish, have been distributed since 2015.
The initiative with Greater Than AIDS, a leading national public information response to the U.S. AIDS epidemic, is part of National HIV Testing Day.
“With early diagnosis and treatment, someone with HIV can live a healthy normal lifespan,” Glen Pietrandoni, senior director of virology at Walgreens, said in a statement. “It’s very important to take control of your health by getting a test and learning your status. Results are provided within minutes, on site, by trained counselors.”
PrEP, a prescription medication, offers an effective means of protection for those without HIV, and antiretrovirals — used to treat HIV in addition to improving health — are now known to help stop the spread of the virus, Walgreens noted. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends HIV testing as part of routine health care.
“We know more about preventing and treating HIV than ever before,” stated Tina Hoff, senior vice president and director, health communication and media partnerships for the Kaiser Family Foundation, which directs Greater Than AIDS. “The first step is knowing your status. This collaboration normalizes HIV testing as part of everyday life, while educating communities about the latest advances.”