In the lead up to National HIV Testing Day on June 27, Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS, a leading national public information response to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic, are teaming with health departments and local AIDS service organizations (ASOs) to offer free HIV testing and counseling about new prevention strategies, including Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).
Testing will take place at select Walgreens stores in 150 participating cities from June 23-25:
Thursday, June 23 from 3 pm – 7 pm
Friday, June 24 from 3 pm – 7 pm
Saturday, June 25 from 10 am – 2 pm
These are the Testing Partners and Houston area Walgreens locations that are participating:
- Legacy Community Health / Store #3157; 3317 Montrose Blvd. Houston TX 77006
- Legacy Community Health / Store #11465; 3822 Old Spanish Trail Houston TX 77021
- AIDS Foundation Houston / Store #13786; 200 W. 20th St. Houston TX 77008
- AIDS Foundation Houston / Store #2686; 1515 Lockwood Dr. Houston TX 77020 – Testing (6/23 only)
Results are provided on-site by trained counselors. Alere North America, bioLytical Laboratories and OraSure have donated test kits for the activation.
“This month marks 35 years since the first case of HIV. We’ve come a long way, but getting tested is a critical first step in staying healthy regardless of status,” said Tina Hoff, senior vice president and director of health communication and media partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which leads Greater Than AIDS.
Why get tested? The HIV epidemic has been plaguing our country for almost 35 years, and it has always disproportionately impacted marginalized communities. Today, African Americans account for only 12 percent of the population but 44 percent of new HIV infections and account for 54 percent of HIV cases in Houston/Harris County. When those who are HIV positive become aware they are living with HIV, they can then seek medical care and take antiviral medications that can reduce HIV spread by as much as 96 percent.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that all Americans be screened for HIV as a part of routine health care, many Americans have never been tested or are not being tested as often as recommended. According to national surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 43 percent of Americans report never having been tested, and another 37 percent say they have not been tested in a year or longer. With early diagnosis and treatment, someone with HIV can live a healthy normal lifespan.
Richard Ashworth, president of pharmacy and retail operations for Walgreens, said, “We are fortunate to have a strong presence in — and close relationship with — communities across America, making us uniquely suited to serve those living with HIV or at risk of being exposed to HIV. It’s one of the best ways I know to champion everyone’s right to be happy and healthy.”
I Got Tested: What’s Next?, is an informational guide available in both English and Spanish from Greater Than AIDS and Walgreens, and will be distributed at hundreds of HIV-specialized pharmacies and through local partners in June. The guide includes information about the benefits of early treatment and PrEP. PrEP is available by prescription to help people who are HIV negative stay negative. When taken as prescribed, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 90 percent. Condoms should be used for added protection and to protect against other sexually transmitted diseases.
“HIV is still a real and serious disease. But with the right treatment and care, people living with HIV can expect to live as long as the average person,” said Glen Pietrandoni, pharmacist and senior director of virology, specialty products and services at Walgreens. “So it’s important to take control of your health by getting a test and learning your status. If negative, there are now prevention options like PrEP, which can help prevent you from getting HIV if you are exposed to the virus. If positive, getting into care early makes a big difference in the long run.”
For a complete list of participating Walgreens locations and supporting partners across the country, as well as for more information about HIV testing, including year-round testing sites, visit www.greaterthan.org/walgreens.