Pharmacy chain will introduce testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections at its clinics.
Walgreens Healthcare Clinics will begin offering testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in 18 cities around the United States starting on April 25. The infections for which the clinics will test include HIV, Hepatitis B and C, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, as well as other conditions.
The testing will be offered at locations in: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Knoxville, Las Vegas, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Tucson, Washington, D.C., and Wichita, according to a statement from Walgreens.
“We are thrilled to learn of Walgreens’ efforts. Testing for STIs is one of our core principles,” said Lynn B. Barclay, President and CEO of the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA), based in Research Triangle Park, NC. According to ASHA, one in two people who are sexually active will have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) by age 25, but fewer than 12% of young people say they were tested for STDs in the past year.
April is STD Awareness Month.
At the participating Walgreens clinics, nurse practitioners and physician assistants will first have a consultation with the patient and then, if needed, run tests for STIs, the company stated. The method of testing will vary depending on the type of infection. If an infection is detected, providers can offer treatment or a referral to a specialist.
In Houston, health-care providers at Walgreens Healthcare Clinics will begin prescribing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication protocol for people who do not have HIV that can help protect against the infection. When taken as directed and consistently, PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 90%. Following an initial consultation with a patient, providers will be able to conduct tests for HIV and other STIs. After test results are reviewed, providers will conduct a follow-up visit and can prescribe PrEP if necessary.
“Our work in educating people about PrEP is also very important to us. We will in fact, reach out to Walgreens to see if we can help,” said ASHA’s Barclay.
“Offering these new services in our Healthcare Clinics demonstrates our ongoing commitment to improving the comprehensive health and wellbeing of our patients,” said Pat Carroll, MD, chief medical officer for Walgreens Healthcare Clinic, in a statement.
Pharmacy staff and store managers at Walgreens throughout the chain will be completing HIV Continuing Education (CE) training courses, according to the company. The curriculum includes a HIV stigma course as well as an HIV prevention course.