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Walmart broadens commitment to accelerate end of AIDS in the United States

Walmart's new HIV-focused efforts are aimed at eliminating AIDS in the United States.
walmart pharmacists teaser

On World AIDS Day, Walmart is launching four new HIV-focused specialty pharmacies of the community, and nationwide pharmacy training program.

The announcement was made in a post on Walmart’s website by Kevin Host, senior vice president of Walmart health & wellness, pharmacy and John Wigneswaran, chief medical officer of Walmart.

The pair said that over the past four decades since the HIV epidemic began, they have seen incredible progress in HIV screening, reducing stigma and the development of new therapeutics that may prevent disease transmission but also lead to normal life expectancy.

Walmart also noted that despite this progress, of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States today, about 400,000 of them are not on regular HIV treatment.

[Read more: Pharmacy Innovator of the Year 2021: Walmart connects with communities]

"At Walmart, we want to change that with access to education, services and resources. With more than 4,600 pharmacies in the U.S. and 90% of the U.S. population located within 10 miles of a Walmart, we have an opportunity to reach people who might not otherwise have access to or seek out HIV care,” the two executives said in the post.

One of the ways Walmart is reaching people is by offering affordable testing and treatment and increased access to HIV research initiatives. 

“We’ve chosen to partner with the Elton John AIDS Foundation on national and local initiatives to increase awareness and access to resources and education through our Breakthrough program. We’re also a founding member of the U.S. Business Action to End HIV, a new coalition of businesses committed to accelerating progress to end HIV in the U.S. by 2030. Across all of these efforts, our goal is to offer compassionate care to our communities in a manner that overcomes barriers and stigmatization,” the executives said.

“To try and do even more in our communities, last year we launched our first three Specialty Pharmacies of the Community to help customers with all aspects of care, including industry leading clinical programs, pharmacy services provided by HIV-trained pharmacists, enhanced care coordination, healthy lifestyle recommendations and emotional support services from our Community Health Workers,” Host and Wigneswaran said.

They added, “These SPOCs are making a difference in the lives of our patients. We hear stories every day of the care our pharmacists take to understand a patient’s needs and help them through their HIV journey. One patient shared how the Howell Mill SPOC pharmacy team helped them understand and adhere to medicine schedules, going above and beyond to help manage their care. And it’s not just our SPOC teams who are focused on this important patient population. We’ve also heard from Walmart pharmacists across the country say they want additional training and certifications to support their communities facing this epidemic.”

[Read more: Walmart, Elton John AIDS Foundation partner to help end HIV/AIDS epidemic]

This World AIDS Day, Walmart is taking these actions:  

  • Expanding our network of Special Pharmacies of the Community to support areas most impacted by HIV;
  • Building on what we learned from our first three SPOCs, we’re excited to support even more patients. In Q1 of 2023, we will add four new HIV-focused SPOCs in the following locations:

Store 2003: 979 Route 1 North Brunswick, N.J.

Store 2547: 41 Anawana Lake Rd Monticello, N.Y.

Store 3795: 2100 88th St North Bergen, N.J.

Store 5095: 495 Flatbush Ave Hartford, Conn. 

  • Announcing a nationwide HIV Prevention + Treatment Continuing Education Pharmacist and Provider Training Program;
  • In partnership with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, we are making this training program available to all Walmart pharmacists and Walmart Health team members. The program, designed by Duke University, will equip pharmacists and clinicians to support patients with or at risk of HIV through clinical and culturally relevant education to enable compassionate care that can overcome stigma and social barriers. This program offers best-in-class training to our team members, which will result in best-in-class care for our patients;
  • To ensure that it meets the needs and busy schedules of our Walmart associates, the first training module has been beta tested by a select group of pharmacists at the four new SPOC locations and our entire staff of Walmart Health Community Health Workers; and
  • Additionally, we support policies to grant our pharmacists prescribing authority for PrEP and PEP therapies. Pharmacists are integral members of the community that bring significant value to the individuals they serve, and reports have shown patients see their pharmacists nearly 12 times more often than they see their primary care provider. However, policies can vary between states, with 13 states currently allowing pharmacists to provide these needed HIV medications, including California, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah. We will continue to support efforts to expand services that pharmacists can provide to better support communities.

“We remain committed to offering the highest quality care to our customers and patients, right in their communities. This World AIDS Day, we are proud to help even more of our patients with or vulnerable to HIV to live better – and healthier – lives,” Host and Wigneswaran concluded.

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