Walgreens hosts free HIV testing events

Walgreens hosts free HIV testing events

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More than 1.1 million people are living with HIV/AIDs nationwide but one in six HIV/AIDS positive people are unaware that they are infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On June 26-28, Walgreens will be offering free HIV-testing in collaboration with Greater Than AIDS at 27 different Walgreens locations in Chicago in support of National HIV Testing Day, which is June 27. No appointment is necessary to receive the test.

HIV/AIDS impacts people spanning across demographics but Latino and African-American individuals are disproportionately impacted by the virus, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

“It’s important to find out what people’s statuses are so people have the opportunity to get help and treatment. By doing that, they live a healthier life and prevent spreading the infection,” said Glen Pietrandoni, senior director of virology with Walgreens.

Early diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS is vital because individuals who adhere strictly to their treatment plan can have life expectancies just as long as individuals without the virus, Pietrandoni said.

Walgreens has partnered with local HIV/AIDS organizations and health departments, in Chicago and nationwide, to provide testing, Pietrandoni said.
“That’s a very important piece of this program,” Pietrandoni said.

“Yes, we are holding testing events on June 26-28, but [the partnership] establishes our relationship at the local level so we can help people all year-round,” he added.

More than 25,000 Walgreens pharmacists have completed over 20 hours of HIV-specific training, Pietrandoni said.

30 Walgreens pharmacies in Chicago are designated as HIV-specific pharmacies as well.

Pharmacists are a community resource frequently untapped, Pietrandoni said, but added that pharmacies and drug stores are safe environments in the community for people to learn about their health conditions without worrying about stigma.

The CDC recommends that sexually active men and women who are not in long-term, monogamous relationships get HIV testing annually.
Pietrandoni reiterated the value of pharmacists as an important community resource.

“People don’t always think of the pharmacist as someone to talk to, but our pharmacies specialize in this health condition,” he said.

“We pride ourselves on the information we can provide to patients,” he added.

A list of Walgreens clinics participating in the free testing event can be found at www.greaterthan.org/partners/walgreens/#.U5nK9cbpXR0.

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