Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS, a public information initiative of the Kaiser Family Foundation, are teaming up with health departments and community organizations in more than 250 cities to host the largest coordinated National HIV Testing Day event in the nation.
“The last two years of COVID-19 saw declines in HIV testing, and many places are still not at the levels they were before,” said Tina Hoff, senior vice president of KFF. “We are thrilled to support our community partners in getting out the word about the importance of routine HIV testing in both treatment and prevention and continue our partnership with Walgreens.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 13% of the estimated 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV today are not aware of their status. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to preserving health and preventing transmission.
Nearly 300 local health departments and community organizations will be at participating Walgreens stores to provide free, confidential and fast test results on-site, without the need to schedule an appointment. Counselors will be on hand to answer questions about HIV prevention and treatment options, including PrEP, a medication that offers another effective means to reduce the risk of getting HIV.
“HIV testing is recommended as part of routine health care, yet many Americans are not getting tested as often as advised. As a result, many people living with HIV are unaware of their status,” said Kevin Ban, chief medical officer at Walgreens. “That’s why Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS, together with our community partners, are expanding free and confidential HIV testing—to help people know their HIV status and take control of their health.”
The Greater Than AIDS and Walgreens National HIV Community Partnership is an ongoing commitment to work with local health departments and community organizations to expand HIV testing and information through nontraditional settings. Since 2011, more than 72,000 free HIV tests have been provided as part of the annual event, including over 15,000 self-tests provided during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to be administered at home.
Walgreens has supported people living with HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic more than 40 years ago. The retail pharmacy invests in training of its pharmacy team members to address the specific challenges faced by people living with HIV, supports several local and national HIV organizations and continues to participate in ongoing research to help end the HIV epidemic, the company said.
Participating Walgreens stores and testing hours for this year’s NHTD activation are available online. Abbott, BioLytical Laboratories and OraSure Technologies have provided community partners with donated HIV tests in support of the 2022 program.