Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Greater Than AIDS and Local AIDS Service Organizations to Provide Free HIV Testing at Select Walgreens Locations

Beginning on National HIV Testing Day on Wednesday, June 27 and continuing through Friday, June 29, 2012, Gay Men's Health Crisis and Harlem United Community AIDS Center will provide FREE [rapid oral] HIV testing at six Walgreens stores in New York City, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily.   The rapid HIV test takes approximately 20 to 40 minutes to administer and process. Test results will be delivered by the local AIDS service organization providing the testing on site.

HIV testing is being provided by health departments and local AIDS service organizations at select Walgreens stores in 20 markets across the nation as part of an ongoing collaboration between Walgreens, the nation's largest drugstore chain, and Greater Than AIDS, a coalition of public and private sector partners united in response to the domestic epidemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Act Against AIDS initiative and the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS, the official sponsor of National HIV Testing Day, also are supporting the effort.

GMHC will provide free HIV testing at the following Walgreens stores in New York City on the following dates and store locations:

Wednesday, June 27
  • Walgreens          4 Times Square, Manhattan           8:00 am to 12:00 pm
  • Walgreens          755 Broadway, Brooklyn                  3:00 pm to 7:00 pm
 Thursday, June 28 and Friday, June 29
  • Walgreens          755 Broadway, Brooklyn                  3:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Harlem United will provide free HIV testing at the following Walgreens stores in New York City on the following dates and store locations:

Wednesday, June 27 to Friday, June 29
  • Duane Reade     320 West 145th Street                      3:00 pm to 7:00 pm
  • Duane Reade     52 East 14th Street                             3:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Of the more than 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. today, an estimated one in five, or nearly a quarter of a million people, do not know it. One-third of those who are positive are diagnosed so late in the course of their infection they develop AIDS within one year. Early diagnosis and treatment helps save lives and is known to reduce the spread of HIV. The CDC encourages everyone to know their status.
"The expanded offering of testing at these stores is a crucial measure, both for people who do not know their status and for those at risk of HIV," said Marjorie Hill, PhD, CEO of GMHC. "Being offered an HIV test at these stores will also decrease HIV-related stigma. We are proud to partner with Walgreens, Greater Than AIDS, Harlem United and DOHMH to increase opportunities for testing which will allow more New Yorkers to take charge of their health, and access the treatment and care they need."

"Harlem United is excited to be a part of this initiative, which is a natural extension of our geographical and zone-based approach to universal HIV testing in East and Central Harlem," said Steven C. Bussey, CEO of Harlem United Community AIDS Center. "We firmly believe in increasing testing accessibility by bringing testing services to the community through as many sites as possible. The partnership with Walgreens, Greater than AIDS and our local ally --GMHC--is a great way to continue this effort."
In total, 47 Walgreens stores in 20 markets across the nation are participating, including stores in the following cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Oakland, Calif., Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, Washington, D.C. and West Palm Beach, Fla.   An additional 138 Walgreens stores in the participating communities will help publicize the free testing provided by local health departments or AIDS service organizations through in-store messaging, including posters, post cards and in-store audio. Walgreens also will promote National HIV Testing Day with special messages on June 27 on its Times Square digital display, the largest billboard of its kind in the country.

"These testing events provide valuable and vital opportunities to help the communities we serve," said Glen Pietrandoni, Walgreens Senior Manager of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis. "Walgreens has supported people living with HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic through its ability to offer accessible pharmacy, health and wellness guidance to patients, wherever they live. Our pharmacists are developing relationships, listening to concerns and providing education and support."

This marks the second year in a row that Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS have coordinated with local health departments and AIDS service organizations to allow them to provide free HIV testing at select Walgreens stores. This year, more than twice the number of Walgreens stores and markets will participate. More than 50 participating health departments and AIDS service organizations are providing the testing and delivering results on site, as well as supporting outreach.

"Greater Than AIDS is about communities working together to achieve a greater goal. This is a powerful example of what can be achieved when the public and private sector come together in response to HIV/AIDS," said Tina Hoff, Senior Vice President and Director, Health Communication and Media Partnerships, Kaiser Family Foundation, a founding partner of Greater Than AIDS.
Throughout the year, Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS distribute HIV informational resources and services at more than 550 Walgreens pharmacies in heavily affected communities. Designated by Walgreens as "Centers of Excellence," these stores have specially-trained pharmacists on hand to offer one-on-one medication counseling and other support services that provide customers living with HIV/AIDS--and their families--with compassionate, confidential care.

For more information, including participating Walgreens stores in each city, visit:

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Gay Men's Health Crisis
GMHC is a not-for-profit, volunteer-supported and community-based organization committed to national leadership in the fight against AIDS.  We provide prevention and care services to men, women and families that are living with, or affected by, HIV/AIDS in New York City.  We advocate for scientific, evidence-based public health solutions for hundreds of thousands worldwide.  For more information, please visit www.gmhc.org.

Greater Than AIDS
Greater Than AIDS is an unprecedented coalition of public and private sector partners united in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States, in particular disproportionately affected groups.  Through media campaigns and targeted community outreach, Greater Than AIDS works to increase knowledge and understanding about HIV/AIDS and confront the stigma surrounding the disease, while promoting actions to prevent its spread.  

The Kaiser Family Foundation -- a leader in health policy and communications -- provides strategic direction and day-to-day management, as well as oversees the production of the media campaign.  The Black AIDS Institute -- a think tank exclusively focused on AIDS in Black America -- provides leadership and expert guidance and directs community engagement.  Greater Than AIDS is developed in support of Act Against AIDS, an effort by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to refocus attention on the domestic epidemic.  Additional, financial and substantive support is provided by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Ford Foundation and MAC AIDS Fund, among others. www.greaterthan.org.

Harlem United Community AIDS Center
Founded in 1988, Harlem United Community AIDS Center (HU) provides a full range of medical, social, and supportive services to predominantly African-American and Latino individuals living with HIV and AIDS, whose diagnoses are often complicated by addiction, mental illness, and homelessness.  Harlem United's mission is to provide full access to quality HIV and AIDS care in order to obtain zero disparities in health outcomes.  HU's community-based health and HIV prevention program employs a two-pronged strategy to educate the Harlem community about their HIV status.  One track targets HIV testing to populations that are disproportionately at risk for HIV, while a second track offers HIV screening and other preventive services block-by-block to persons who may be at risk but are unaware. www.harlemunited.org.

As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2011 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) vision is to become America's first choice for health and daily living. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The company operates 7,855 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country. 

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