Walmart launches new initiatives in fight against HIV

Marianne Wilson
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Walmart is opening new specialty pharmacies to support areas most impacted by HIV.

Walmart honored World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 by revealing two new community initiatives it is taking to help people cope with and prevent HIV.

The retail giant is expanding its network of “specialty pharmacies of the community” (SPOCs) to support areas most impacted by HIV. The concept, which Walmart launched last year with three locations, helps customers with all aspects of care, including clinical programs, pharmacy services provided by HIV-trained pharmacists, enhanced care coordination, healthy lifestyle recommendations and emotional support services from the company’s community health workers.

Walmart is opening four new SPOCs, with locations in North Brunswick, N.J.; North Bergen, N.J.; Monticello, N.Y.; and Hartford, Conn.

The SPOCs are making a difference in the lives of patients, Walmart said.

“We hear stories every day of the care our pharmacists take to understand a patient’s needs and help them through their HIV journey,” Kevin Host, senior VP, Walmart Health & Wellness, pharmacy, and Dr. John Wigneswaran, chief medical officer, Walmart, wrote in a blog on the company’s web site. “One patient shared how the Howell Mill SPOC pharmacy team helped them understand and adhere to medicine schedules, going above and beyond to help manage their care.”

In addition, Walmart is launching a nationwide HIV Prevention + Treatment continuing education (CE) pharmacist and provider training program.In partnership with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the retailer is making the program available to all Walmart pharmacists and Walmart Health team members.

“The program, designed by Duke University, will equip pharmacists and clinicians to support patients with or at risk of HIV through clinical and culturally relevant education to enable compassionate care that can overcome stigma and social barriers,” wrote Host and Wigneswaran.

In addition to the new initiatives, Walmart shared the steps it has taken over the past 40 years in the fight against AIDS. The company said it is a founding member of the U.S. Business Action to End HIV, a new coalition of businesses committed to accelerating progress to end HIV in the U.S. by 2030. 

It also has partnered with the Elton John AIDS Foundation on national and local initiatives to increase awareness and access to resources and education through its Breakthrough program.

“Across all of these efforts, our goal is to offer compassionate care to our communities in a manner that overcomes barriers and stigmatization,” the Walmart executives wrote. “We remain committed to offering the highest quality care to our customers and patients, right in their communities. This World AIDS Day, we are proud to help even more of our patients with or vulnerable to HIV to live better – and healthier – lives.”