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Walmart announces free HIV screening pilot at two locations in Virginia

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BENTONVILLE, Ark.— Today – on World AIDS Day – Walmart announced an HIV screening pilot at two Walmart pharmacies in Virginia, set to last three months, which will offer free HIV screenings and results.  The screenings and testing will be administered by HIV-trained Walmart pharmacists and is a simple finger prick blood sample, which takes between 20 and 30 minutes to return results. While the test is running, pharmacists will discuss other preventative measures like STI tests, contraceptive use, the need for a pregnancy test, medication that can treat or prevent the spread of HIV, vaccines a patient may need and more.

To date, Walmart has launched 85 HIV-focused Specialty Pharmacies of the Community (SPOC) across 11 states, with more growth on the horizon. Since launching our HIV training program with the Elton John AIDS Foundation less than a year ago, every single Walmart pharmacist at an HIV-focused SPOC location has completed it. This training equips pharmacists and clinicians to support patients with or at risk of HIV/AIDS through clinical and culturally relevant education, enabling more compassionate care.

“The pilot is an important first step in the fight against HIV and AIDS in local communities. Where there’s awareness, and accessible options, there can be proper care. Store 2160 in Petersburg and Store 2795 in Ashland are already HIV-focused Specialty Pharmacies of the Community (SPOC), which means they’re staffed with HIV-trained pharmacists and Community Health Workers who understand patient needs and are uniquely equipped to support HIV/AIDS patients throughout their journey to health,” wrote Kevin Host, senior vice president, Walmart Health & Wellness, Pharmacy in a blog post.

“And with more than 4,600 pharmacies in the U.S. and 90% of the U.S. population within 10 miles of a Walmart, we have the opportunity to reach people who otherwise simply may never seek care. This new testing opportunity takes our commitment to care a step further,” he added.

Host said the test will be administered by Walmart pharmacists and is a simple finger prick blood sample, which takes between 20 and 30 minutes to return results. While the test is running, pharmacists will discuss other preventative measures like STI tests, contraceptive use, the need for a pregnancy test, medication that can treat or prevent the spread of HIV, vaccines a patient may need and more. “It’s important to note these tests are screenings, not diagnoses. In the event of a positive test, we’ll help patients work with their primary care physician or the Department of Health to order a confirmatory test.”

He said the ability of Walmart pharmacists to support HIV/AIDS patients is something they are particularly proud of. And it hasn’t been without extra work on their part. “Since launching our HIV training program with the Elton John AIDS Foundation less than a year ago, every single pharmacist across our 85 HIV SPOC locations has completed it. This training equips pharmacists and clinicians to support patients with or at risk of HIV/AIDS through clinical and culturally relevant education, enabling more compassionate care.”

“One of the underlying principles at our Specialty Pharmacies of the Community is overcoming the stigma, and accompanying social barriers, often associated with HIV/AIDS. To do that, we’re expanding our SPOCs to locations with the most need. William ‘Bill’ Presley is the pharmacy manager at Store 2160. His passion for care is personal. Bill shared that HIV affected both his brother and his mom. His leadership and commitment to this work will make a profound impact on the community he serves in the central Virginia area.”

“If you have information, you can protect yourself. I just hope that we will be able to do a well-enough job that people will feel comfortable to come into here to talk to us,” Presley said. “Then we can direct them to the places they need to go.”

Host added that Walmart has launched 85 HIV-focused SPOCs across 11 states, with more growth on the horizon. “At each location, Walmart pharmacists make connections with their community, learning names, understanding circumstances, remembering medications and turning the patient experience into something far beyond business, but a true journey to better care.”

“Today, we remember and honor those whose lives have been forever changed by HIV and AIDS. While we reflect, we also look toward a brighter future. There’s more progress to make, and our Specialty Pharmacies of the Community represent a step in the right direction,” Host concluded.


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