In the past four decades since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, we have seen incredible advances in HIV screening, reducing stigma, and developing new therapeutics that can not only prevent disease transmission but also lead to a normal life expectancy. Despite these advances, of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States today, approximately 400,000 are not on regular HIV treatment.1 At Walmart, we want to change that with access to education, services and resources. With more than 4,600 pharmacies in the US and 90% of the US population within 10 miles of a Walmart, we have the ability to reach people who might not otherwise have access to or seek HIV care.
One way we are reaching people is by providing affordable testing and treatment and greater access to HIV research initiatives. We have chosen it Partners with the Elton John AIDS Foundation on national and local initiatives to raise awareness and access resources and education through our Breakthrough program. We are also founding members of US business action to end HIVa new coalition of companies committed to accelerating progress towards eradicating HIV in the US by 2030. In all of these efforts, our goal is to provide our communities with compassionate care that breaks down barriers and stigma.
To do even more in our communities, we last year started our first three Specialty Pharmacies of the Community (SPOCs) to support clients with all aspects of care, including industry-leading clinical programs, pharmacy services provided by HIV-trained pharmacists, enhanced care coordination, healthy lifestyle recommendations, and emotional support services from our community health workforce.
These SPOCs change the lives of our patients. Every day we hear stories about the care our pharmacists take in understanding a patient’s needs and helping them on their HIV journey. One patient shared how Howell Mill’s SPOC pharmacy team helped him understand and adhere to medication schedules by doing everything possible to manage his care.
And it’s not just our SPOC teams that are focused on this important patient population. We’ve also heard from Walmart pharmacists across the country that they want additional training and certification to support their communities during this epidemic.
Therefore, on this World AIDS Day, we are stepping up our commitment in two ways:
- Expanding our network of Special Pharmacies of the Community (SPOCs) to support the areas most affected by HIV
Building on what we learned from our first three SPOCs, we look forward to supporting even more patients. In Q1 2023 we will add four new HIV-focused SPOCs at the following locations:
Business 2003: 979 Route 1 North Brunswick, NJ 08902
Store 2547: 41 Anawana Lake Rd Monticello, NY 12701
Store 3795: 2100 88th St North Bergen, NJ 07047
Store 5095: 495 Flatbush Ave Hartford, CT 06106
- Announced a nationwide continuing education program for pharmacists and HIV prevention and treatment (CE) providers.
In partnership with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, we are making this training program available to all Walmart pharmacists and Walmart Health team members. Conceived by Duke University, the program will empower pharmacists and clinicians to empower patients with or at risk of HIV through clinically and culturally relevant education to enable compassionate care that can break down stigma and social barriers. This program provides our team members with world-class training that results in world-class care for our patients.
To ensure it meets the needs and busy schedules of our Walmart employees, the first training module was beta tested by a select group of pharmacists at the four new SPOC locations and our entire Walmart Health Community Health Workers staff.
These are just two examples of how we listen to what our staff and patients tell us.
Additionally, we support policies to allow our pharmacists to prescribe PrEP and PEP therapies. Pharmacists are integral members of the community who bring significant value to the people they serve, and reports have shown that patients are nearly 12 times more likely to see their pharmacists than their GP.2 However, guidelines may vary between states, with 13 states currently allowing pharmacists to provide these needed HIV medications, including California, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah. We will continue to support efforts to expand the services pharmacists can provide to better support communities.
We remain committed to providing the highest quality care to our customers and patients directly in their communities. On this World AIDS Day, we’re proud to help even more of our HIV-infected or at-risk patients live better – and healthier – lives.
1 – US Statistics: Living with HIV. https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/statistics
2 – Improving pharmacists’ prescribing power improves access to PrEP: GoodRx study: https://www.goodrx.com/healthcare-access/research/pharmacist-prescriber-authority-hiv-prep