BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart marked National HIV Testing Day with a pledge to open 80 Specialty Pharmacies of the Community (SPOC) locations across 11 states by the end of the year. This month the company has already opened 70 of the HIV-focused outlets across 10 states, allowing patients to access education and services at the same stores where they are already shopping for household essentials.
“One of the most important parts of caring for a community is making sure you offer services that understand the unique challenges individuals face. That task can be tricky, but it’s also worth it because compassionate care can change lives,” Kevin Host, senior vice president of pharmacy at Walmart Health and Wellness, wrote in a blog post.
Host noted that there has been some incredible progress over the past four decades in HIV screening, as well as in the reduction of stigma around the condition and the development of new therapeutics that may not only prevent disease transmission but also lead to normal life expectancy for HIV patients. Still, one in three people living with HIV in the United States are not on regular HIV treatment. The SPOC outlets can help patients with all aspects of care, by offering clinical programs, pharmacy services provided by HIV-trained pharmacists, enhanced care coordination, healthy lifestyle recommendations and emotional support services from community health workers.
On National HIV Testing Day, “we’re taking the next step, announcing the opening of 70 new SPOC in locations around the country — each chosen for our ability to make an impact among those who need it most,” Host said. “These pharmacies play an important role in understanding and addressing the specialized needs of the people in our communities living with HIV. Our team of HIV-trained pharmacists, technicians and community health workers is dedicated to making a difference and helping patients navigate their health journey, removing barriers to care in every way we can.
“We’re proud of our progress, but we believe there’s more to be accomplished. Next year, we plan to expand our focus to autoimmune conditions, including skin, joint and gastrointestinal conditions. With each SPOC launched, and each pharmacist or technician trained, we’re learning and growing toward even better care in the future.”