On National HIV Testing Day on June 27, Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS will partner with over 200 health and community organizations to provide free HIV testing and information at Walgreens stores in over 180 cities.
Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS have announced that they will team up with 220 health departments, AIDS service organizations, and other community organizations to help provide free HIV testing and information at Walgreens stores in over 180 cities on National HIV Testing Day on June 27.
Participating stores will provide free, confidential, and fast test results on site, without the need for an appointment. Counselors will be available at the stores to answer questions regarding prevention and treatment methods, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis.
Early testing is crucial for early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and, subsequently, better management of the virus. Initiation of ART within 30 days of HIV diagnosis is associated with a significantly reduced risk of treatment dropout and treatment failure. As neurological damage begins early after HIV infection, particularly while untreated, early initiation of ART is also associated with preventing HIV-related brain damage or halting further deterioration.
“Early testing can mean access to effective treatment and the opportunity to go on to live a health normal lifespan,” said Glen Pietrandoni, senior director, patient care and advocacy, Walgreens, in a press release from the company. “In addition, with proper adherence to medication, successfully treated patients cannot easily transmit the virus to others. As we continue to work towards an end to HIV/AIDS, it is crucial that testing and trusted resources on treatment are made more widely available within communities.”
According to the press release, Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS are helping participating partners expand the free HIV testing to even more locations this year, particularly focusing on heavily affected communities. BioLytical Laboratories and OraSure Technologies are donating testing kits and Abbott Rapid Diagnostics is providing support for outreach.
Community collaboration and outreach have been implemented in cities nationwide in ongoing efforts to combat the HIV epidemic. A team of clinicians from Northwell Health’s Center for AIDS Research and Treatment at North Shore University Hospital uses data and technology to identify HIV hot spots in the area to facilitate prevention and treatment efforts through community outreach. In addition to identifying stakeholders in the community to alert them of their high risk, a community liaison works with people in the community to identify where they get their medical information and where they go to meet people—venues they go to or apps they use—and use those venues to educate people.