To commemorate National HIV Testing Day on June 27, Walgreens has partnered with health departments, HIV service organizations, and other community groups to provide free testing across the country.
Between 10:00 AM and 7:00 PM, the pharmacy chain will offer tests along with helpful information and counseling at participating stores in more than 260 cities nationwide. The initiative is part of a larger strategy by the federal government to reduce new diagnoses by 75 percent in five years, and 90 percent in 10 years.
While it’s an ambitious goal, Walgreens has partnered with the Kaiser Family Foundation’s (KFF) Greater Than AIDS program to help make it happen.
“Walgreens continues to support HIV testing since it is a critical first step in developing effective prevention and care strategies, regardless of status,” Glen Pietrandoni, senior director, patient care and advocacy, Walgreens, said to Business Wire. “With more than 3,000 HIV-trained Walgreens pharmacists in communities across the nation, we can uniquely support HIV testing, education, and care, working towards an end to HIV/AIDS.”
One of the biggest problems is that public awareness has not kept up with the scientific advances. A recent KFF survey found that while 80 percent of Americans recognize HIV as a “serious issue,” a majority of those surveyed don’t know about new preventative treatment strategies like PrEP, which if practiced correctly makes it virtually impossible to contract HIV. Today, Truvada is the only FDA-approved drug to be prescribed as PrEP.
Even more concerning is the lack of awareness about the virus itself. Half those surveyed had never heard of the term “undetectable." Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in seven people living with HIV in the U.S. are unaware of their status.
Testing is key to prevention and treatment. In addition to fast and free HIV testing, there will be helpful information and free counseling on prevention and treatment. No appointment is needed. If there are no local participating stores in your area, Greater Than AIDS has set up an interactive map that lists testing, services, and providers by zip code.
The best treatment is to practice prevention, and that begins with testing and awareness. If you haven’t been tested, Thursday, June 27 is your chance to do so free of charge.
Be smart, stay safe, get tested!