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Walmart expands services for people living with HIV

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Walmart expands services for people living with HIV

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart marked National HIV Testing Day with a pledge to open 80 Specialty Pharmacies of the Community locations across 11 states by the end of the year. This month the company has already opened 70 of the HIV-focused outlets across ten 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 live,” Kevin Host, senior vice president of Walmart Health & Wellness, Pharmacy, 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, 1 in 3 people living with HIV in the United States are not on regular HIV treatment. The Specialty Pharmacies of the Community 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.

“Today, on National HIV Testing Day, we’re taking the next step, announcing the opening of 70 new HIV-focused Specialty Pharmacies of the Community (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. This month, as we opened 70 SPOCs in Colorado, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and expanded our footprint in Florida, we’ve paired our openings with free HIV testing events. By the end of the year, we will have more than 80 SPOCs open in 11 states,”  Host wrote in the post. 

 Host said Walmart has a history of working to eradicate HIV/AIDS. And for the people spearheading this program, like Aleata Postell, senior director of specialty pharmacy business development, the chance to improve HIV care and accessibility is personal. Her family friend was diagnosed with HIV years before revealing the diagnosis and searching for treatment.  “Our pharmacists work with the patient’s prescribers to partner on a treatment plan that is best for them,” Aleata explained. “Our pharmacists are an integral part of a patient’s care team – and that’s exactly how our pharmacy teams are trained.” 

Host added that as sad as this truth is, this story isn’t uncommon. “And we want to change that.  In our work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, we’ve learned a lot about the scale of the problem: 1 in 3 people living with HIV in the Unites States is not on regular HIV treatment.   That’s why these SPOCs are so essential. With 150 million people passing through our doors each week, we have a unique opportunity to reach people who might not otherwise have access to or feel comfortable seeking HIV care. Located conveniently and discreetly inside a Walmart pharmacy, our SPOCs help people living with HIV manage every aspect of their condition, right where they’re already shopping for their everyday essentials. From discussing treatment options to conversations around mental health to sharing resources and helping navigate insurance options, we’re committed to holistic care.”

“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,” Host concluded.


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