Walgreens and several organizations will educate about HIV testing and antiretroviral (ARV) medications to prevent HIV transmission on National HIV Testing Day this Thursday, June 27.
Free HIV testing will be available at approximately 445 Walgreens stores in more than 260 cities on June 27, via a partnership between Walgreens, Greater than AIDS, health departments, and other organizations.
In addition to offering the testing, counselors from local agencies will answer questions about HIV prevention and treatment options, including PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), a treatment to protect against HIV.
1.1 million people are estimated to be living with HIV in the United States, according to latest CDC figures. One in seven people are unaware of their HIV status, adds Michael Frei, senior managerof pharmacy and operationscommunications.
“Getting an HIV test is the first step to identifying people with the HIV infection, and the pivotal entry point into the medical care system for both treatment and prevention,” Frei tells Drug Topics.
In addition, the public knowledge about antiretroviral medications to treat HIV and prevent the transmission of the virus has not always kept up with the science, according to Frei. According to a recent national survey by Hentry Kaiser Family Foundation, which runs Greater Than AIDS, fewer than half of Americans know about PrEP, and many understate the health and preventative benefits of HIV treatment.
“New studies demonstrate that people living with HIV have effectively zero risk of sexual transmission with suppressed HIV viral loads. The CDC has stated that about 1.2 million people could benefit from PrEP, the use of anti-HIV medications as another effective means of protection for those testing negative for HIV,” Frei says.
The National HIV Testing Day community partnership is part of an ongoing commitment by Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS to extend the reach of HIV testing and information to non-traditional settings and support the outreach of local agencies.
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“More than 45,000 free HIV tests have been provided by the Walgreens/GTA partnership since 2011 as part of the annual event and we are looking to significantly increase this number this year,” Frei says.
BioLytical Laboratories, Chembio Diagnostics, and OraSure Technologies, Inc. are contributing donated test kits and Abbott Rapid Diagnostics is providing support for outreach for the 2019 activation.
For information, visit www.greaterthan.org/walgreens.